Michigan Seasons, Update

By the skin of my teeth and by the grace of a few people with skill and dedication I couldn’t do without, More Than Christmas, the first in the Michigan Seasons Series, is live!

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Initially, I had intended to write a seasonal standalone set in the Metro Detroit area of Michigan, told from an outsider’s point of view. But once I got Nick and Dale together a couple of things happened to derail my plans. Firstly, I found that I liked them too much to rush their Happy Ever After. (They will get one, that much I promise, only it’s going to take a few more installments.) And secondly, Dale really wanted to have his say. I would have preferred it if I hadn’t already written half of the second book from Nick’s point of view before I realised this, but there you have it.

The second book, After The Snow, will follow closely on from the first and takes Nick and Dale from January to March. It’s written from Dale’s point of view and will feature more of his backstory. Additionally, Dale will find himself in a situation that will challenge both his relationship with Nick, and his life in Ferndale.

After The Snow will be released in March 2017, but there will be updates and snippets before then.

Peace and Love, Lane Swift

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Cover reveal, upcoming release

Arriving in time for Christmas (and boy was it a close-run thing), More Than Christmas, the first in my upcoming series, Michigan Seasons.

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Blurb:

 

Keeping life simple can be a complicated business.

On a two-year assignment to America, young British auto executive Nick Harris is interested in only one thing—boosting his career—until he meets his hunk of a next-door neighbour, and landlord, Dale Hepburn.

The problem is that Dale’s interest in Nick seems to be more changeable than the Michigan weather. One day they’re training in Dale’s garage gym and he’s giving Nick smouldering looks from under the barbell. The next, Nick’s attempts to turn up the heat on their friendship get the cold shoulder.

Dale finally claims he’s holding out for love that will last, and Nick’s stay in America is only temporary. But a neighbour’s accidental remark suggests otherwise. Humiliated and hurt, Nick confronts Dale—with disastrous consequences. Now, with painful truths revealed, and hearts bruised, Nick must find a way to convince Dale they can be more than Christmas.

Follow a Brit’s romantic journey, through his first Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in Michigan, including a costume party, a blizzard, and a family crisis, to a heart-warming HFN.

~ 39000 words

 

The last six months, writing, reading

This is a run-down of the last six months, which is how long ago I decided that in order to be a writer, I had to do like a writer. There’s also been quite a lot of gardening.

Books read, according to my Goodreads list, 42. That does include a number of short stories and novellas. I don’t read quickly, so I consider that an achievement. I wholeheartedly agree with the advice that writers need to read, and widely.

Things written for publication:

Something Good: a FREE m/m romantic short story (5k), now available on Smashwords here
Man of the Match: a FREE m/m novella which will be published by the Goodreads M/M Romance group this summer in their Love’s Landscapes anthology
The Playmaker: a f/f romantic novella which has was accepted by Less Than Three Press (!) a couple of weeks ago. I don’t have any release details yet.
Sleight (working title): so far, 35k rough words written of a m/m paranormal/sci-fi novel, which I aim to have ready for submission in the autumn. I’m guessing the final word count will be about 70k.

I’m just about there — a fully-fledged published author!

My blogging and online presence has been much lower-key. What can I say? I’m trying. My Twitter and Facebook get more love than this poor, neglected blog. I read my feed, I just don’t post much.

And now, the garden. For the first time, my kids and I are attempting to grow produce. Nothing grand — we’ve started with tomatoes, beans, carrots and onions. But we already have a teeny, weeny tomato. Every day, my youngest and I go to check on it.

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At heart, though, I’m in it for the flowers. The south of England is the perfect mix of sun and rain, and so far I haven’t been disappointed.

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There are some weeds in amongst the roses — and surprise strawberries, discovered this spring after clearing back some overgrown shrubs over the winter.

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Writer peeps, I’ll leave you to make your own analogies. The sun’s come out, and it’s nearly Pimms o’ clock.

My Writing Process Blog Tour – Romance is Romance

I’ve picked up the baton to blog about my writing process from Charlotte Comley, my friend and fellow writer, who runs The Writers At Lovedean.

A day early, just because…

1. What am I working on?

I’m actually between projects. For the last few months, I’ve been focussing my efforts on editing and polishing. At the end of April, I finished and submitted a novella and a short story. Both are adult romances. One is a free read which will be published in an anthology as part of the ‘Love’s Landscapes’ event hosted by the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads.

This last week, I’ve done a lot of reading, both for pleasure and as a beta reader for other writer friends. I consider this as important as working on my own writing: learning from other writers, sharing the work, being connected.

Starting Tuesday, a new project begins—my first novel! I’ve been planning (in my head mostly) and thinking about this for months, so I’m actually very excited to finally start getting the words down.

The story is a paranormal/near-future sci-fi gay romance, set on Hayling Island (I may change the name for the novel), which is one of my local haunts. There will be plenty of action, some trauma and, needless to say, lots of love.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t think it does. The romance genre has many sub-genres: sci-fi, fantasy, horror, thriller, period, contemporary, military … the list goes on and on. That holds true whether it’s gay or straight romance, or any other combination of individuals in a romantic relationship. This next time, I just so happen to be writing about two men falling in love.

Maybe when I have more work ‘out there’, I’ll be in the minority as far as romance writers go, as I don’t plan to stick to writing one type of ‘pairing’.

So far, I’ve written a novella where the romance is between a lesbian and a bisexual woman and a few short stories where the romances are between gay men. My first attempt at a novel (finally ditched as a lost cause year ago) was about a straight woman who learns how to thrive, including sexually, living alone after divorce. Thus far, I haven’t attempted to write about any polyamorous relationships. Which is not to say I won’t.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Love stories allow me to submerge myself in the rush and excitement of new love, then bask in all the ways the characters can work at making that love last. Exploring emotional and physical connection, particularly sexual connection, I suppose that’s what drives me.

I’m also a sucker for a happy ending, particularly if there’s heartache and obstacles to overcome in getting there. Romance with its pre-requisite happy-ever-after is such a blissful escape—cuddles and chocolate for the soul.

4. How does my writing process work?

Usually I spend a fair bit of time day-dreaming about my main characters before I write anything down, to see whether I fall in love with them enough to commit to a story. It’s rare for me to be struck with enough passionate inspiration to simply dive in.

If it’s a short story, I’ll get directly down to writing once I’ve formulated a rough idea in my head and maybe typed a few notes.

For longer stories, I’ll use a notebook and/or post-its (though I’m going to make better use of Scrivener for my next project) to make notes from anything to places and dates, to character traits or significant events. I use Pinterest boards for visual references, people and places mainly. I also have music playlists (that evolve with the characters and the story) for getting me in the right mood and for inspiration.

Once I have some sense of my characters, and their place and time, I get typing.

Usually, I research as and when I need to as I go along. Sometimes, if I need to do more, I’ll have lists of bookmarks that I can return to, or separate files of information.

I try to type linearly—start at the beginning and keep going until it’s done. That doesn’t always work. Actually, it rarely works. So I just keep typing because there’s always cut and paste. Or cut, cut, cut, DELETE.

I’m a lot less worried now than I used to be about hacking out thousands of words if they aren’t working.

When I get blocked I get on my cross-trainer, cut the grass or do a pile of ironing. Something mundane to let my mind go where it will. As I get more and more experience, I’m beginning to trust that if I let my mind go, it will eventually take me where it needs to. Often that isn’t anywhere near where I thought I was going in the beginning.

Next week…

I am passing the baton onto the truly lovely Jenni Michaels. She’s a busy woman, not just with her own writing but in her tireless encouragement and support of fellow writers. So it just might be that she doesn’t write her blog piece next week, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t worth a follow.

She can be found on Twitter and her blog.

Writing is hard…

Everyone who writes knows this.  They also know that the first words, the first draft, is only the beginning of a long, arduous journey.

Editing is hard.  I’m still at the stage where it’s taking me ten, fifteen, maybe twenty re-reads and edits before I’ve distilled my words down, crafted them into something that I’m merely satisfied with enough to show anyone else.  Then there’s letting someone else read what you’ve written.  And the hardest thing of all, having them critique your work.

I’m lucky enough to have in my circle of friends people who know much more than I do about literary-type pursuits, which is not all that surprising.  My education and career has been almost solely science-based.  Add in marriage, parenting, a part-time job as a telecommunications consultant and a couple of international relocations and there hasn’t been much time for anything else.  It wasn’t until my children were both at school that I began fantasising about writing, about telling the stories filling my head, and finally plucking up the courage to take the plunge.

Fast forward to this year, to joining a local writers’ group, voracious reading of writing magazines, short story publications and a plethora of novels and novellas the average English student has probably read before exiting their teens, on top of the writing itself, and here I am, with a small portfolio of short stories.

I made contact with a dear and trusted friend, J, and tentatively asked if he would read a couple of things I’d written.  He was glad to, and offered to give me feedback.  I jumped at the chance, even though I was nervous. (No, not nervous, terrified.)

J and I Skyped a few days later, because he was on tour with a band and was reading the two shorts I’d sent him from a hotel in Scotland.  My whole body was shaking.  We’ve known each other since our teens, but this was a part of me he’d never seen.  He writes, he knows writers, he knows actors and entertainers and musicians, and I have never been part of that club.  I felt vulnerable.  I felt sick.

J went through everything line by line.  He told me what he liked, what he didn’t, while I scribbled furiously with a red pen over my text.  J also told me not to overwrite.  He said, ‘when you come to edit,’ like I’d handed him my first draft.  I didn’t tell him what he was seeing was the best I’d ever written; that these stories were ones I’d penned months ago and I’d gone over them a dozen times.  I was already feeling like I’d run around the block naked.  There was no need to do a dance as well.

J’s feedback was absolutely invaluable.  I’ve edited the stories again, alas too late for the competitions I’d already entered them in (another lesson learned, for another day).  But I feel like they’re tight now and that they’re the absolute best I could have done at this point in time.  And because of that feedback the next stories will be better.

Writing is hard. But in my experience, almost everything worth doing is.