Ah, what a difference a year can make.
2011 was odd: wonderfully, strangely odd. It started with my struggling to finish a story about a guy named Bear, the love of his life (whether he knew it or not) Otter, and a snarky and deeply fragile nine year old. I knew how it was supposed to end, and I knew the end would leave some questions unanswered (the hows and the whys), but I figured it wouldn’t matter because no one was going to read it anyway.
Boy, was I wrong.
I finished the novel sometime in February. (Okay, who am I kidding—I know the exact date and time I typed the last word.) Then I sat on it for a few weeks. Then I reread it. Not bad. Not great, but not bad. I changed a few things around (Mrs. Paquinn got more quirky, the lawyer scene expanded) and I felt better about it. I decided on Dreamspinner as my first stop (first stop isn’t a joke, either). I’ve heard so many horror stories about author’s getting rejection letter after rejection letter before they finally get their book published (if at all). I was under no illusion that I had written the Great American Novel. Far from it. I told myself to steel up my nerves, that it’d hurt if/when it was rejected, and that I’d allow myself a moment or two to wallow in self-pity (after all, what did that stupid publisher know, anyway? I had just written the Great American Novel! Screw them! Won’t they be upset when I’m rich and famous!) I received an email back, saying it had been received and would be 6-8 weeks before I would get a response.
So what to do? Sit and watch the clock and calendar? 6-8 weeks is a really long time, if you think about it. Especially if someone is judging what you had just spent months putting your heart and soul into. It can be agonizing, that wait. (Okay, you can check the calendar again; it has to have been at least two weeks since you last looked. Go ahead. IT’S ONLY BEEN TWENTY MINUTES!?!?!?!) I had a choice then: watch and wait (while reading over the copy of the manuscript I had sent in, seeing repeated, obvious mistakes that I just knew were going to cause the book to be rejected—Sloppy, the notes would say. Don’t you know how to edit? Please don’t ever submit to us again.) Nah, I couldn’t wait and watch. I would have given serious consideration to losing my mind.
Might as well start the story I’d always wanted to tell. It was going to be a huge book, the first part of a trilogy. I’d always had this image of a guy falling off a really tall building. Who was he? Why did he fall? Did he jump? Was he pushed? How could a person survive something like that? Did he survive something like that? My thoughts grew from there until it formed this epic story of black vs white, good vs evil. I even knew the first line: My name is Felix Paracel and when I was nine, I killed my mother with fire that shot from my hands. Felix, I decided, was the guy who fell off the building. And so I starting writing. And writing. And writing.
During the three months it took me to tell the story of Felix and Seven, April 7th, 2011 happened. Email received from Dreamspinner, wanting to publish BOATK. I remember my first thought being bullshit. And then I danced. And then I freaked out. And then I wrote a calm email back saying thank you for the consideration and that I would review the contract and get back to them.
It was a whirlwind from there. Edits. (What the fuck do I know about edits? What do you mean the original ending of BOATK doesn’t make sense? Of course it makes sense! I FUCKING WROTE IT.) Cover. (Do you want to have half naked to mostly naked men on your cover? Uh, no. A nine-year old is a main character and that would just be weird. And gross. Some people won’t read it if you put a child on the cover. Oh. Who cares? His name is already in the title. I’m not gonna have two ripped guys boning on my cover just because some person in Florida hates children in their m/m books. Okay, we’ll do it!) The blurb. (I hate writing about what I wrote.) My bio. (I hate writing about myself.)
During this time, I finished my second novel. I thought if it ever saw the light of day, people were gonna freak the shit out (in a good way), especially given the last 100 pages. I was proud of the way it ended. Probably a bit too proud. But I had finished that damn thing in three months so I figured I was okay with liking it a bit more than I had BOATK. I didn’t know if anyone else would, and I still don’t. After all, it’s M/M and it’s supernatural, but it’s not a shifter story. There’s no vampires. It’s sorta violent. People die. It’s the first part of a trilogy, so things aren’t wrapped up in a pretty bow at the end. Fuck. What the hell was I thinking?!?!? But I sent it off for consideration 7/1/11. And waited. And Waited.
And didn’t write a damn thing for over a month.
Two days before BOATK’s release, Burn was accepted for publication for February 2012.
BOATK came out, but if you’re reading this, most likely you knew that already. I’ve already talked about its release way too much in the past, so no need for me to rehash it here. You know what happened, how it’s been received. For that, I’m thankful. But what you may not know is that looking back, there are parts in the book that makes me cringe. I wish I’d done certain things differently. I wish that we hadn’t spent so much time in Bear’s head. I wish I’d been a tad bit clearer on the end (mom’s motives). Why do I wish that? Because I really didn’t plan on writing a sequel. I thought that maybe the boys would ride off into the sunset and that would be that. But after the release happened and people responded the way they did, I knew I could go back to the boys and continue, if only I could think of another story to tell. And the right idea hit me one random day and two months later, it was finished. Now, I’m making plans for the boys and for my other new guys. Big plans.
So BOATK won a few awards, was named one of Amazon.com’s best books of 2011. Apparently it’ll be up for a few more in the coming months (more on that down the road!) People from all over the world have emailed me about it, both good AND bad. I never expected any of that. I never expected it to sell well, never expected it to affect others the way it did. To some, it was a good story. To others, it meant something to them given their own lives. Still others hated it with a glorified passion (one review went so far as to claim all the good reviews on Goodreads and Amazon were plants by people that I knew and wanted people to rate it badly just to counteract all the good ones—LOVE IT!!!). All of that? All of that is way awesome. I don’t want universal acclaim (seriously!) or universal hatred (duh!). If I had either, I would think I had done something wrong, or that I would never be able to live up to that first book. The fact that some people loved it, some people hated it, and a lot of people liked it was the best reaction I could have hoped for. And it’s one I hope to continue to get.
So 2011 started with a tremulous hope and is ending with me seeing three novels published within an eight month period. Holy fuck me sideways. Never thought that would happen.
2012? You’ll get Burn. You’ll get BOATK2. You may also get a surprise or two that shall remain quiet for now. But if my 2012 is anything like my 2011, then I think it’ll be a pretty damn good year.
So thank you. Chances are if you’re reading this you’ve read my first book and have given me such an awesome gift. It means more than you could know.
Oh, and just because we’re getting closer to the release, a couple of remaining characters that I have not yet revealed for Burn, out 2.6.12 are listed below. I should have the cover soon and also details as to when Burn will be available for preorder. In addition, a very limited amount of Burn paperbacks signed by me will be available. That’ll be first come first serve and I’ll have further details as we get closer.
Who you’ve met so far:
Felix Paracel—narrator. An Elemental capable of controlling fire and wind, possibly the only dual Elemental in the world. Called Findo Unum—the Split One.
Seven Fortis—A non-Elemental, or a “Normal,” as they’re referred. Also known as the Luravit Cor to Felix, as revealed in the first excerpt. What does Luravit Cor mean? Sure sounds like Latin, doesn’t it? As a matter of fact, a lot of this world is based in Latin. Strange.
The Clock Twins, Tick and Tock: Seventeen year old Asian twins capable of controlling Water and Earth. Also, they are tech geniuses whose hacking capabilities are unparalleled.
Edna Brunelle: Sixty-seven year old Fire Elemental, one of the more powerful in the world. As a Magister—teacher—to the Split One, she will help Felix with the Fire side of his abilities. Has an affinity for younger men.
Otis Moore: An Elemental capable of controlling fire, who also has an affinity for all things weapon-related. He and Seven grew up together and have been best friends since they first met at the age of six. Years before the story starts, an event led to a vicious attack, partly handicapping Otis’s mind. He’s a functional adult, but given the brain damage he sustained, he is not the same person he used to be. Some consider him now to be an idiot savant.
Jason Taylor: Best friend to Felix Paracel (though, he only knows him by Felix’s cover name, Atticus Vanesco, and does not know that Felix is an Elemental). He is a Normal (a non-elemental) and a cop with the Terra City PD. He’s always considered himself to be Felix’s protector, but he can’t shake the feeling that something is coming that he has no control over.
New Character Reveal:
Thaddeus Paracel: Father to Felix Paracel, husband to Felix's mother, who Felix accidentally killed as a child. After the night of her death, Thaddeus took Felix into hiding, keeping him away from the world and those bent on finding Felix. Felix suspects his father knows more than he's saying about the event's of Felix's life, even down to the point of what Thaddeus does for a living.
Kammy Basileus: Earth Elemental, part of Seven's team of Elementals. Previously was romantically involved with Seven Fortis, she doubts Felix's capabilities which she lets him know on a regular basis.
One last thing: the opening quote for Burn?
I will burn, but this is a mere event.