This was the year I finished Beneath the Stain, The Bells of Times Square, Black John, The Deep of the Sound, and Immortal.
I consider these five things to be some of my best work.
So even if I'm still putting my all into something, if it's not ripping my heart out, I'm going to consider it just a wee bit easier--and honestly? That's fine. Just like as readers we don't always want to read the stuff that emotionally destroys us, as writers, we don't always want to write the stuff that leaves us two pints low with blood on the floor.
Sometimes, our favorite reads are the sweet ones, the quiet ones, two guys (or two girls or a girl and a guy) just working shit out.
There's still craftsmanship, and there's still heart, but there's not sixty-eleven trips to rehab and dead bodies and jagged, rusty, emotional detritus.
Sometimes, a whole lot of craft and skill and joy goes into just writing something with heart.
So, The Candy Man is coming out on December 3rd, and it's available for presale at Amazon and Dreamspinner and Candy Man is that kind of read. It's kindly, gentle, there's some pain, but there's also a big floppy dog and a cat or two, and some genuinely sweet guys working shit out. I loved being with these guys so much, that when I needed something short and sweet to come before Quickening (which I start next month so as to finish in March) and after The Deep of the Sound (which was actually due about a month before I got it in, because GRL, sick, and it just frickin' got long on me!) there were people from The Candy Man who still needed their story told, and Bitter Taffy is the next book to do just that. In a way, it's like my Granby universe-- the place with Jeremy Bunny and Craw and Stanley. There's sweetness, there's heart, but it's going to leave us happy, fuzzy, with our hearts only a little battered, and our livers slightly less destroyed. Like I said-- it was the perfect thing to work on right now. I may try to run against form and write the next book in the series only two more books down, so that way, I can get a series out in a timely manner for once. And see-- that'll be a change too.
But in the meantime, to prove I haven't gone soft, I've got The Bells of Times Square coming out on December 15th. Available for presale at Amazon and Riptide, if it seems like it's been on presale forever, that's because it has. See, Riptide had some faith in this one as a work of literature, and it's gotten some nice reviews. I believe I've mentioned (and yes I'm gonna be dropping this bomb a lot, so's you knows) that it got rated a Top Pick in the January issue of Romantic Times--and I happen to have the review right there:
4.5 stars, Top Pick in Mainstream Literature
Lane understands the power true love has to survive hardship and make even the loneliest hearts feel whole. She manages to convey these enormous feelings in achingly simple, straightforward terms. This tale of family bonds and enduring love is no exception. Her insight into her courageous heroes, both young and old, makes this layered story real and compelling. The exquisite final scene is a guaranteed tearjerker, and an unforgettable testament to a love that defies time.
It also received a review from Publisher's Weekly, and although not all of the review was flattering (not everybody is as excited about framing devices in a story as I am, and that's something not even legitimacy will cure) it did have some really nice quotes:
…A Florence Nightingale romance develops between the two men as they hide from Nazis and try to imagine a world where they can fight a just war and have a life together. The scenes with Nate and Walter are elegant and movingly rendered…"
So, considering I was let go from teaching because my administration considered M/M romance "porn", I'm calling these two reviews a win. For one thing, did you notice the category of The Bells of Times Square in the Romantic Times quote? It said "Mainstream Literature"-- not "gay fiction", not "erotica"-- and that's pretty special. That means that this piece holds up in any venue. I've maintained since the very beginning that the only difference between "romance" and "mainstream fiction" should be the guaranteed element of hope in the story, and I think I've done that, and, well, hell yes. I'm proud.
So, well, there's Bells.
Also coming up is Black John, which is on its third edit right now. Black John is the fourth book in the Johnnies series, and it features everybody's favorite coke fiend (yeah-- I can't even believe I wrote a book with this guy) on the rocky road to rehab. I think I've said this before, but I'll definitely say it again-- John surprised me. I mean this book was dark. In its way, it was even darker than Beneath the Stain because Mackey hadn't hurt anybody when he was doing everybody's drugs. John did. John hurt the guy he'd been pining for-- and he feels like crap. And to top it off, John's ex-- the guy who fucked him up in the first place-- has ended his life and left a big freaking mess for John to clean up--and a neighbor with his own addictions for John to fall in love with. So yeah. This one isn't the sweet and easy of Candy Man or Bitter Taffy-- but in spite of all of this, John had a dry, sarcastic, voice. Unlike some of my characters, he's in his thirties, he's a survivor, and we see in this story that he's been down before and he's pulled himself up, and he is stronger, and a better person, than he's ever imagined.
If the only thing standing between mainstream literature and romance literature is a sense of hope? Black John has a surprising amount of hope. I'm a fan.
And speaking of hope.
So, I did mention that I was writing Bitter Taffy before Quickening. Now the reason I'm not jumping on Quickening right away is because the earliest it will be released is 2016-- In the past few years the length between a story being accepted and a story being published has gotten longer, precisely so we can send stories to places like Publishers Weekly and Romantic Times Magazine, which is a good thing for Indie publishers and Gay Romance writers alike.
But the other reason it will be a while for Quickening to be released is because we're currently re-releasing the entire series. So, Black John comes out in late January, and Vulnerable with a brand new cover and brand new editing and everything, will be out on March 3rd.
It's my first. It's got an introduction written by Mary Calmes and Damon Suede, and another one written my yours truly and basically?
It was a sentimental journey to revamp this book, from beginning to end.
I can't wait to get to the other ones. It's gonna be a trip.
So, there you go-- what's coming out, what I'm working on, what I'm excited about. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section, and I'll try to address them either on the blog or on FB--
And in the meantime? Thanks for reading, keeping up with me, and loving the work. I really do have the bestest readers in all explored space-- thank you so much for being part of this :-)