Tags: josh lanyon

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Coming in 2010

A number of you have asked, so here's this year's list of projects as it stands now. There will probably be a couple of additions along the way -- we'll just have to see how things go. I'm planning to work at a much slower and saner pace this year.

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Guns and Noses

 So the always entertaining Lisabea (who is interviewing Samantha Kane today) pointed out that her compadre Sula just reviewed ARRESTING DEVELOPMENTS. Which is very nice to hear as the anthology sort of came and went although it's got one of my personal favorite stories in it.

Not that I can think of many stories I've written that I didn't like, but that's mostly because if a story isn't working for me, I scrap it. Fast.

I've been studying Lisabea's review style because like the goof I am I've decided to try my hand at reviewing over at Novelspot.

I know exactly what you're thinking because I'm thinking it too. But I was sort of shocked when it was mentioned in passing to me that they didn't have reviewers interested in taking on M/M or GLBT stories. Anyway, I'm apparently going to do this -- really, you don't have to say it because I know I'm making a mistake, and I've requested a couple of books. I only have to do one a month, so how hard can that be?

I know, I know.

Anyway, I'm studying the reviewing styles of a few folks who I think do a good job. At novelspot they do a numerical thing which I've never liked. I don't go in for the point system or scales of one to ten or five stars/chili peppers/wee genitalia. I'm more of a thumbs up or thumbs down kind of spectator. But hey. I signed on, I'll do my best to conform. 

Meanwhile, back to DANGEROUS GROUND which I hope, pleasedeargodhavemercy, to finish up today. Because I am really getting into deadline hell....

 Oh -- nearly forgot. I'm also the interviewee over at GLBT Promo today. Because Lord knows I never get tired of talking about writing -- or myself, apparently.
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Sounds Like...Hamster

Yeah, exactly. I don't know if I'm coming or going -- I know I wish I was going. I'm drowning here. I guess it's good. Too much work is better than no work...but I'm starting to -- flail. Run faster, little hamster, move those pale, pink, hairless feet.

Anyway, lisabea (who has at long last started her own LiveJournal -- pop over there and encourage her, will you?) posted a really lovely  review of The Dark Horse. The Dark Horse was the first novella I wrote specifically for the M/M and e-book market, and it remains one of my favorites. 

And now back to work -- but thanks, lisabea, for that bright spot in a chilly February morning.
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Man Love Monday

 By the way, I wanted to share the fact that I'm today's interviewee over at Nose in a Book

The lovely and charming Lisabea apparently couldn't find anyone else to interview, so she asked if I'd play, and of course I jumped at the chance. 

Lisa and her compadre Sula do a very nice job reviewing a variety of romance novels (and we've all heard ad nauseum how picky I am about reviews and reviewers). I admit I wasn't familiar with her site until my publisher pointed out a review Lisa had done of Snowball in Hell. But now I'm a fan. The girls are occasionally snarky, but genuinely funny -- and equally enthusiastic when they love something. Oh, and they do that all important thing of supporting their opinions by examples.

Yeah, yeah. I'm not winding up for a tirade, just mentioning in passing....

writing, how to, m/m, gay fiction

Birds Eye View

I’ve been working on the novella DANGEROUS GROUND. This will be coming out April 29th from Loose Id (I think they already have the artwork up). And it will be in print as part of the HOSTAGE! anthology from MLR Press. I’m hoping the print book will release around the same time as the electronic novella, but I’m not sure. I have a sneaking suspicion Laura is running behind on her story. That’s the downside of being an entrepreneur. Less time for her own creative efforts.
Anyway, I was having a little trouble with this story. Not anything to do with the story itself – I like the story. Basically it’s about two agents from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security – best friends and on-the-job partners – who go camping in the High Sierras to try and repair their damaged relationship after one of them is nearly killed in a shooting –which follows straight on the heels of having made a (sexual) play for his partner and been turned down.
No, the problem – maybe “problem” isn’t the right word. More like…consideration…was to do with the POV with which I was going to tell the story. Choosing POV is one of the most vital story-telling decisions you can make, but often writers just go with whatever they’re used to writing in, whatever is comfortable – if they think about it all.
For example, lately I find I really like the idea of omniscient roving POV for fan fiction. And as I started to analyze why, I decided that it has to do with the camera’s POV in most television shows or movies. Most often the camera provides the viewer with an essentially omniscient and roving POV. We get insight into what’s happening with everyone critical in a scene through close ups or zoom shots, and this is as often as not NOT through the POV of the main character or protag. In fact, sometimes the main character has left the scene and we get a close up on the face of the person or people still remaining – often doing something sinister like reaching for the phone or scowling into a thoughtful distance.
So in a weird way, I think the roving omniscient POV might be the truest and most accurate way of capturing the feel of canon for fan fiction (in the case of stories based on television shows or films) because it mostly closely mirrors the original method of storytelling.
What’s odd about this is I generally prefer a tight and limited POV usage for my own work. But I fooled around with omniscient POV for this story -- and I think that’s because this particular story was strongly influenced by my fondness for the old British TV show The Professionals.
There’s an episode in that show where one of the partners is shot in the heart (which is nice and symbolic, since he’s the more “sensitive” ruthless field op) and naturally it’s fueled many a fan fic. And there are lots of different dynamics to explore there – especially if you’re writing from a slash viewpoint (but even if you’re not, it’s a great dynamic – which is why so many shows have these sorts of Very Special Episodes).
Never minding the obvious I Love Him and He Might Not Live stuff, there’s the terror of brushing up against your own mortality, the fear of not making it back, the fear of being shot again – true of both partners, really. And then there’s survivor guilt, blah, blah, blah. Suffice it to say, there’s lots to work with.
And the more possible story dynamics, the more tempting it is to use different POVs to capture all the potential angles.
Originally I’d intended to do the story in first person POV, which is my favorite to work in, and, as I say, I experimented with omniscient, but in the end I thought maybe it was more useful for this story – where the two protags will spend a sizable time apart – to go with alternating third person POV. In this case I do want the reader to get both characters’ side of the story – although in most M/M romance novels I think it’s more effective storytelling not to give the reader that insight, it keeps tension ratcheted up high, offers a little suspense when the reader doesn’t know both sides of the story. But from a practical standpoint this story requires insight into both characters.
Awhile back I read an interview with crime writer Sara Paretsky, and she was talking about how she writes – how she believes all writing takes place from three perspectives. Perspective being related to – but different than – POV. And I thought that was a good observation, and worth sharing:
A)    We write from the perspective of the POV character of the moment – what that character thinks and experiences; the obvious filter being that character’s point of view. It’s an internal and personal view point. And the better we are at getting inside a character’s head, the more “real” that character feels.
B)     We write from an omniscient perspective – we observe the POV character and narrate what we see – what that character is doing, how that character looks – it’s the camera’s POV that I mentioned earlier. It’s the entire scene and everything happening in it – including the POV character’s place within the scene. It’s setting the scene for the reader, a neutral reporting on what’s happening. It’s external and impersonal, and you get this even when you’re telling a story from a first person POV, although the main character’s POV acts as a filter.  
C)    We write from the author’s perspective – this is our own objective and removed viewpoint as writer and storyteller – deliberately and consciously making stylistic choices: picking words, phrases, images, discarding this word as overused, this metaphor as cliché. It’s the analytical and detached viewpoint of the craftsman.
And I think the best stories and the most successful storytellers are those who seamlessly integrate all three perspectives. Some people have a knack for this, and if there is such a thing as a born writer, I think it’s probably in this ability to see all three angles at the same time, to move fluidly from one perspective to the next: to visualize the entire scene, to place your main character within the moment of that scene, to never lose control of how you will tell the reader about the scene.
It’s easier said than done, but I think some people do it instinctively. But like just about anything in writing, even if you don’t do it instinctively, you can learn to do it. You can train yourself to do it by checking for each of these elements when the time comes to self-edit your work. 
What you don’t want to do is choose POV based on what you think is most commercial or what some editor says sells best. POV decisions should be made based solely on your competency and the needs of the story. 
writing, how to, m/m, gay fiction

When it rains it pours

 It's been pouring rain off and on for three days, which always makes me happy. There's something soothing about rain, I think -- providing the roof isn't leaking, and it's not. Which is good because I got the first round of edits on the legendary writing book. The majority of it is formatting stuff, which is horrendously complicated so thank God for my editor. She's come up with some great additions: line drawings, annotations in the margins -- neat stuff that I'd never have thought of on my own. 

And of course now I'm coming up with all the stuff I forgot to mention, and the book is getting longer and longer. But I think it's going to be useful -- and hopefully entertaining too. Although not everyone's idea of entertainment is a writing book.  

Granted, it's the worst possible timing because of the increasingly ugly and threatening Other Deadlines. But what a relief to be dealing it with at last.

So a great day all around, and then it got even better. Some very kind person sent me a copy of The Larton Chronicles for my birthday. The Larton Chronicles is a Pros zine -- it's kind of an Angela Thirkell meets Queer as Folk AU thingie, from what I can make out. Granted, I'm always a little leery of AU, but this comes highly recommended, so I'm looking forward to reading it. And as I have to go out of town this weekend, it's arrived at the perfect moment...so thank you whoever you are.

And thank you also to the anonymous person who just added two years worth of paid account time to my Live Journal account. I don't quite know what to say. That's an incredibly generous thing to do, and I plan to make the most of it. (And thank you also for the virtual rose -- unless that was a third anonymous gift, which seems hard to believe.) I guess I really do need to take some time and figure out how this whole Live Journal thing works because I've been fumbling around since day one, and I still have no idea how to do things like...send these little virtual thingies or get pictures into my posts or date stamp my entries, which I assume can be done, but who knows.

Anyway, an abundance of gifts, and all of them very much appreciated -- and rain too!  What a terrific day in every way. 

Hope you all have a long and lovely weekend.
adrien english mysteries

Interview with Jake Riordan

 And in other news, I recently dashed off an interview with LAPD Homicide Detective Jake Riordan from the Adrien English Mysteries for Alex Beecroft's delightful In Their Own Words blog. 

This is a blog where Alex -- a very talented author in her own right -- offers writers an op to interview one of their characters, which I think, as ideas for Blatant Self Promotion go, is pretty clever. 

Anyway, I chose to interview Jake since he seems to be the character that arouses the most passion (good and bad) from readers. I threw him the main questions that get lobbed my way; I don't know that the interview clarifies anything for those readers who really loathe him, but it was fun to write.

You can read the interview here.
writing, how to, m/m, gay fiction

The Eyes Have It

"Dammit!" Dr. Raoul Martinque’s eyes spit fire.
Unless you’re penning Fantasy, Horror, or Alternate Universe, you should never write anything about someone’s eyes spitting fire.
Or shooting icicles.
Or turning to liquid pools.
Or dropping to the floor, or flying to someone else’s face, or flashing, snapping, crackling or popping.
Well, maybe I’ll give you popping. Because sometimes people’s eyes really do seem to pop open. That one’s arguable. But I’ve never seen anyone’s eyes spit fire or shoot icicles -- or even daggers.
Granted, I know what you mean by these descriptive phrases -- I think we all know what you mean -- but this is beyond cliché, this is just plain old bad writing. So why do inexperienced writers (and a few hacks) keep latching on to them?
Well, partly because these kinds of descriptives used to be popular in the days of pulp fiction -- and, unfortunately, are still popular in the kind of romance fiction that gives romance writers a bad name.
By the way, for a really entertaining, and ultimately instructive book on writing, get hold of a copy of GUN IN CHEEK by Bill Pronzini. Though it's out of print now, it's a classic -- and one of the funniest things I ever read.
Anyway, these phrases have a primitive effectiveness about them. We understand what the writer means by “eyes spitting fire.” We know it’s not meant to be taken literally, and people’s expressions do change when they’re angry or affectionate or amorous. Good writing is precise writing, so it’s natural to want to capture these expressions and emotions.
I like -- believe in -- the idea of eyes being the window to the soul; you can read a person pretty accurately when you’re able to look her in the face. Granted, that's not a new idea or unique to me -- which is one reason why eyes are so important in writing romance. Speaking of which, if someone meets someone else’s eyes, it should signify A Moment. It shouldn’t be there just because the author thought it was time to throw in some stage business.
Eyes narrow, they widen, and…I’m going to regret saying this, I bet…they do sometimes seem to darken, lighten, even…uh…sparkle. They don’t really sparkle, but writing is a delicate balance between realism and symbolism. So to an extent readers understand that characters in romance novels are different from you and me. They have sapphire eyes or emerald eyes or even topaz, silver, golden, or jade eyes that...well...occasionally...sparkle -- all of which I personally and deeply regret, but here I know I’m outvoted by many romance readers who like these artistic liberties. In fact, these descriptions seem to function like code. Which means they’re a useful shorthand between author and reader.

The guy with the sapphire eyes? He's the hero.
And even I have to admit that there are people who have a certain glint or shine in their eyes -- a liveliness that for lack of better word could be called “sparkle.” Please don't quote me on that, though, because I'm going to deny I ever said it.
My personal thought is you should always try to capture the physical reality of what you’re trying to describe. Faces tighten with anger, they soften with tenderness, brows draw together in thought -- these are clichés too, but they more accurately capture the physical possibilities of the human face. You can get away with a bit of this if you use it sparingly.

What you want to do, if possible, is describe things in fresh ways, but there’s a limit. You can strain a metaphor too far, and any description that brings the reader up short, is not effective. Anything that yanks the reader out of the story, makes her or him go…huh? Or, worse, laugh, is a mistake. You want the reader in the moment with you -- with the characters. Not squinching his own face in an effort to figure out whether something is anatomically possible.
Now where you can get away with using some of these hokey descriptives is if they show up in the internal dialog or thoughts of your POV character. A certain smart-ass tone allows for observations that in flat narrative would be cliché, but in that character’s head become “voice.” 

Does that make sense? 

So your protag might facetiously observe that Dr. Raoul's eyes seemed to be spitting fire, but this would not be an objective, clinical observation. This has more to do with your character than Dr. Raoul (who is clearly not on his best professional behavior).
The point of writing romance is…it’s supposed to be romantic. So you have a certain amount of artistic license. Use discretion. Use moderation. Use common sense. Don’t make me flash my eyes at you.
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The Hell You Say

 'Cause nothing says the holidays like demons and death threats. Actually, that does sound a bit like my family.

Juuuuust kidding. 

About the death threats. The demons in my life are nothing if not loving.

Anyway, those of you not trapped on
my mailing list may have missed the glad tidings that THE HELL YOU SAY is back in print -- and in ebook format. 

The third novel in the Adrien English series finds the "ill-starred and bookish" mystery writer and bookseller battling demons--maybe literally. After bookstore clerk Angus flees following terrifying death threats, Adrien must contend with a mysterious Satanic cult, a hot and handsome university professor, and his on-again/off-again relationship with closeted LAPD Homicide Detective Jake Riordan. 

And, oh, yes, murder...

I don't actually have a lot to say -- beyond urging you to buy it in one or the other format -- as I'm still reeling from the horrible discovery that I haven't finished my Christmas shopping after all. 

My editor and publishers have been putting together a schedule for next year, so the good news is that I'll soon have some firm dates for the numerous projects listed on my website. The baddish news is that Adrien Four AKA Death of a Pirate King has been pushed back to August. But it will be a better book for it, I promise you. 

And, also in the good news category, my releases next year will be spread out more evenly, so there won't be two and three things releasing in a month -- usually. That makes it easier on you (and me). 

And not only have I apparently not finished Christmas shopping, I can't find any damn tinsel for the tree. I'm serious. I stopped at three places last night. NO  ONE has tinsel. What's up with that? Is there some frigging tinsel shortage? 

And since I'm giving into my inner Grinch, may I just say that I hate wrapping presents? 

Ah. This is the danger of an online journal. Before long I'll be complaining about all kinds of wacko things, and they'll live forever in infamy, and in fact, they're really no more serious a complaint than the thoughts that go through my mind when someone cuts me off in the mall parking lot. (Which, while getting an "R" for violence, only amounts to a few seconds of screen time.)

So lemme focus on some happy holidays thoughts. Favorite Christmas CD anyone? Favorite holiday beverage? Best moment of the holiday season thus far?