❂ Coming soon: Fugue, Concord by Varian Krylov + Giveaway ❂

To start off this week, I asked one of my favourite authors to come on over to speak about her upcoming novel.

Let’s give a warm welcome to the very talented Varian Krylov!

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Hi everybody! And Bey, thanks for having me back!

It’s kind of funny, I’m a writer, but when I step away from my tall tales and try to write a blog post, I never know what to say. But today, after chasing my tail for a bit,  I decided it would be fun to talk about one of the inspirations for my upcoming novel, Fugue, Concord.

 

0 FE2A0564I’m from California, but for the last two years and change I’ve been living in my favorite city in the world—Barcelona. It’s a fabulous place for lots of reasons: it’s part of Spain’s sunny Costa Brava, but in addition to being a beach city on the Mediterranean, it’s also got mountains, and its urban center is studded with amazing architectural gems, with Roman walls, neogothic cathedrals, and beautiful modernist buildings by the whimsical genius Antoni Gaudi and others. Barcelona is also a culturally vibrant cosmopolitan hub, with fabulous art museums, galleries, and a thriving music scene.

So, when I decided to write something a bit lighter and more playful than Bad Things and Trasmundo,  I thought, hey, why not take my readers on a little vicarious holiday to Barcelona?

Raval El Jardi  FE2A3074Unlike most of my novels, much of Fugue, Concord is rooted in my own experiences venturing into the realm of independent filmmaking for a few years before I moved to Europe, and also my life living as an expat in Spain. I had a lot of fun taking these characters to my favorite beaches (where bathing suits are always optional), on evening strolls through the winding, narrow streets of the labyrinthine Gothic neighborhood, and out to savor the local night life amid a few of my favorite jazz clubs.

jazz en la playa _E2A2452eAnother of my favorite things about Barcelona is the Spanish men (I know, huge surprise, haha). And I’d love to introduce you to Ángel, the god of jazz.

If you want a sneak peak at Fugue, Concord before the novel comes out next month, you can read a long, juicy, NSFW excerpt at my website: http://variansfiction.wix.com/variankrylov

I’ll also be posting updates and announcing giveaways on my Facebook page. If we’re not already friends, don’t be shy! I love talking to readers and fellow writers!

Besos!

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This book… oh this book. I want to visit Barcelona more than ever now :)

For a chance to win an ebook copy of Varian’s book, Fugue, Concord (when it comes out), comment below and tell me where in the world you’d love to travel to. I’ll pick one random winner on Monday, July 4th at 7pm EDT.

Good luck!

Trasmundo: Escape ★★★★★ | guest post, review, and giveaway

I’d like to welcome Varian back to my blog and wish her a very happy launch day of her new book Trasmundo: Escape

Read Varian’s guest post about the link to art in Trasmundo, stay to take a look at my review of the book, and then comment for a chance to win an ecopy of the novel (winner will be chosen randomly on Monday, Aug. 10 2015).

 Without further ado… bestselling author, Varian Krylov!

Art and Trasmundo

KO by Zdzisław Beksiński
KO by Zdzisław Beksinski

Thanks for inviting me for a chat. *Waves to Bey and friends.*

Bey asked me to talk a bit about the importance of art in Trasmundo: Escape. First off, for those who don’t know, Bey not only designed the beautiful book cover, but also created the wonderful pieces of Luka’s art that appear in the novel. I was elated when Bey said he was up for creating some paintings to go in the novel, and I love how they turned out.

Probably because I identify with the need to solve life’s puzzles by playing with words and images, and that compelling urge to connect to the people around me by sharing the alternate realities that hatch in my imagination, the protagonists in my novels are often creative souls: musicians, writers, photographers. Luka, the main character of Trasmundo: Escape is an artist. Largely because of how people have treated him all his life, he’s a solitary and introverted person, so in some ways, his drawings and paintings are Luka’s way of reaching outward and communicating. But art is also an escape from a cruel and violent world. The surreal landscapes he creates are worlds he retreats to when his reality becomes too lonely, painful or scary.

Apart from the importance of art as an aspect of Luka’s character, I wanted to use references to other artists as a way of expanding and layering the tropes of war, exile, and identity in the story. A few years ago, I read an essay by Milan Kundera, and there’s a line where he calls literature a silvery bridge linking distant lands and strangers, “the last observatory from which we can embrace human life as a whole.” That line really resonated with me. Since I first started reading literature from other parts of the world, it’s been my way of trying to understand other cultures, and people from different places and times. Unlike reading a history book, or a newspaper, when I read a novel set in nineteenth century Russia or France, or contemporary Iran or India, novels show me how like me these people are, despite our unique cultures, languages, and historical circumstances.

Trasmundo by Remedios Varo
Trasmundo by Remedios Varo

In Trasmundo: Escape, I wanted to use the quotes that head each chapter, as well as a lot of other borrowed phrases that are woven into the story itself, and the works of the artists Luka admires, as a way of tying Luka and what he goes through, with the horrors of twentieth century history that happened decade after decade, all around the world. Because, even though Trasmundo takes place in a fictitious country, it reflects atrocities that really took place, like the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, what the Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia, and the genocides in Rwanda, and Yugoslavia. Some of the artists who are inspirations to Luka are people who lived through similarly traumatic moments in history. Uruguayan-born Remedios Varo fled Franco’s Spain during the civil war and remained in exile in Paris; German artist Edgar Ende had his paintings confiscated and destroyed by the Nazis; Zdzisław Beksiński endured the Nazi invasion, and later the Soviet occupation of his native Poland.

I wanted to bring references to these artists, along with quotes from people like Walter Benjamin and Czesław Miłosz, together like threads, and weave them together into a unifying tapestry in Trasmundo: Exile, because when we are lucky enough to live in a time and place where we feel safe, conflicts that happen in places like Rwanda or Yugoslavia can feel so remote. Like they have nothing to do with us, who we are as individuals, and as a society. But unfortunately, I think the frailties that allow people to fall under the spell of the Hitlers of the world are universal, and we all need to be vigilant against those who are constantly circling, watching and waiting for a chance to use our fear and resentment of those who appear different from us, to expand their own power.

De Profundus by Edgar Ende
De Profundus by Edgar Ende

For me, this issue meshes perfectly with an m/m romance that also touches on homophobia. Ethnic cleansing focuses a population´s anxiety on religion and culture, but the hatred it foments is intimately twined with the same weakness that drives people to ostracize and persecute LGBT people. And Trasmundo: Escape is about two men, on opposite sides of an ethnic conflict, who look past the pointless hatred stirred up by leaders on both sides of the war, and find a friendship that slowly turns into something else. Something Luka, the young artist, never thought would be his.

 

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My Review – ★★★★★

trasmundo-final-900x1350I was so chuffed to collaborate with Varian and do the cover and other art for Trasmundo: Escape because this was such a great read for me. I haven’t read many books where one of the central MCs is an artist—as an artist myself, that alone made the book a fascinating read. However there is so much more to it.

For one, the tension in this book was very thick at times, which I loved—the stress of waiting to see whether war’s grasping claws would reach Luka, the worry over whether the risky escape would succeed… even the very precarious beginnings of the main relationship were all driving me forward, the words of the story compelling, and imagery vivid. However, the tension was tempered by Tarik’s calm confidence and the wonderful way that the two MCs came to find solace in each other.

luka-treeYep. I liked it even though it was romantic. No… wait… maybe because it was romantic.

Don’t get me wrong, the book is set against the dark, terrible backdrop of war and the ruthless, degenerates who are drawn to take part in it—but what Luka and Tarik have together spreads warmth and light across that sombre canvas, shaping a story that is both wonderfully sexy and beautifully touching.

I can’t wait for the next one.

 

 

The Real Deal – Guest Post by Joseph Lance Tonlet

My guest today is Joseph Lance Tonlet, author of Grif’s Toy and the Amazon-banned Brothers LaFon, two fantastic books that you should really check out if you haven’t already. :) When he sent me this blog post, it made me damn happy that I’d get to share it with all of you.

So… Without further ado… Joseph.

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Today is my 49th birthday, but this guest post isn’t really about my birthday, or even birthdays in general.

When I began this journey of writing, well over a year ago, I also created a social media pen name profile. You know, for places like Facebook, Twitter, etc. It was then, very early on, that I had to decide who Joseph Lance Tonlet would be. Meaning, how much of myself—the real Joe—would be incorporated into the online/fictional JLT.

Society demands we keep certain things to ourselves; i.e. there are topics we just don’t share or talk about with anyone lest we be labeled a freak, or a pervert, or worse. In addition, there’s the “author branding/appeal” aspect to consider. Indeed, if the goal as a writer is to sell books, then how one presents one’s self needs to be considered.

Well-meaning “real life” friends freely gave advice on what parts and pieces I should share, and which I should keep to myself. Their reasoning ran the gamut from maintaining a certain level of mystique, to being cognizant of how people’s perceptions of me (JLT) could potentially affect book sales.

The more I listened, the more convoluted and—to be honest—contrived it all sounded. Feeling somewhat disheartened by the whole marketing aspect, I stepped back and asked myself, 1) How inauthentic do you want to be? and 2) What’s your goal here? The answers: 1) Like most folks, I want to be as authentic as possible, and 2) My goal is simply to write. Once I did that, asked myself those two basic questions, the decision was easy: I’d be me. The real me. Without question, far more genuine than I dare to be with most “real life” friends and family.

Much to my surprise, I’ve been embraced in a way I could never have dreamed of. Indeed, the “virtual friendships” I’ve been fortunate enough to forge have been nothing short of fucking brilliant. And the reason for that? I believe it’s because I’m being real—warts, twisted kinks, and all.

Back to the birthday bit. As I mentioned, today is the big four-nine. (A number, by the way, I’m choosing not to dwell on, LOL!) Over the last week, the mailboxes, both real and virtual, have delivered birthday greetings. Receiving cards from family and friends is special, and I’m always very grateful to anyone who has taken time out of their busy day to drop a card in the mail to me. However, this birthday is different. This is Joseph Lance Tonlet’s first birthday…and the reason for this writing.

The Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc, etc, etc messages I’ve receive have seriously bowled me the fuck over. Do JLT’s birthday wishes mean as much or hold the same weight as the ones I received for Joe? You’re damn right they do. Hell, perhaps even more. Why? Because they’re being sent to the “real” me. They’re being sent to person I’ve put out there who is the most authentic version of myself that I’ve ever been allowed to present. There is nothing more meaningful than that, and to borrow Sally Field’s often misquoted quote, “You like me, you really like me!”

So, I guess what this post is really about is expressing my gratitude. My gratitude for your friendship, and my gratitude for embracing the real me in a completely unimaginable way. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you!

xoxoxo,
Joe

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Joseph, I’m damn proud to call you my friend. Happy birthday, buddy!

PLUS: Go check out the May Birthday Celebration and Giveaway Joseph is participating in over at Two men are better than one for a chance to win a signed paperback or ebook!

Interview with Brad Vance, Author of Gay Romance and Erotica

Today I’d like to welcome the extremely prolific writer of gay romance and erotica, Brad Vance. Welcome to my blog, Brad. Glad to have you here.

Thank you! Glad to be here!

 

First off, you just released a new book, Would I Lie to You? that is garnering high praise from reviewers. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

I’d love to. I’m calling the series “The Game Players” because the characters are the kind of people who need a challenge, even in their romantic lives. Just dating and mating isn’t going to be enough for them. There has to be desire that’s suppressed, teased, extended and made more powerful by every move in their games. They’re both aware that what’s developing between them is a chess match, and that’s what makes it so interesting. Marc and Jesse are similar in a lot of ways – incredibly smart, driven, goal-oriented – and they’ve been betrayed by men who were their romantic and business partners. They’re also both honest people, in their own ways – even if that honesty means confessing that you’re not telling all of the truth. The title is “Would I Lie to You?” and that’s really the question at the heart of the story – if you can’t tell someone the truth, do you lie, or do you walk away, acknowledging that there are things you won’t share, that you can’t trust someone with the truth?

 

What drew you to writing romance and erotica?

I’d flailed around publishing novels under another name that never really went anywhere, and then Aubrey Watt did an AMA on Reddit about being a M/M smut writer, back in October 2012. I was fascinated by that, especially with the amount of money she was making! I wrote up “Good Cop Bad Boy,” my first M/M story, and mailed it off to her, asking her to take a look at it and tell me if I had a future in the biz. She said HELL YEAH you do! So that was my start…when Amazon started blocking/banning a lot of erotica, I moved into writing novels.

 

You recently decided to become a full-time writer. How’s that treating you? Have you found that your writing habits have changed a lot because of it?

Oh my God it’s the greatest. I’ve lost 18 pounds since I left my day job at the end of February! Just being able to be active all day, not chained to a desk, overeating as if trying to chew my way out of the cubicle…I love the freedom. I haven’t signed up for a class or anything yet, because I’m still savoring the “clock free” life – I’m just not ready to be on anyone else’s schedule again, not yet. I was running on stress for so long that I’m still trying to come down from that…
I was really working two jobs for the longest time, getting up at 3 am to write till 6:30, then getting ready for and going to the day job…it made for long days, with no life. My writing habits have changed in some ways but not in others. I still get up at 3 am! I guess I’m still conditioned to that sleep cycle, and in the back of my mind I’m afraid that it’ll all end in tears and I’ll have to get a job again, in which case I better stay used to getting up early… But, I no longer feel under the gun the way I used to, when I had to keep an eye on the clock with a hard stop at 6:30 every morning. If I sleep in till the unholy hour of 5:00, well, my day isn’t shot!

 

Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?

Well, when I started, I was just doing short erotica, so there wasn’t any other avenue for it. And, under another name, I’d been through the New York/tradpub mill, and I had no desire to go through that again, ever. To have no control over your title, cover art, blurb, I hated that. And the WAITING. The endless wait for someone to get around to reading it, the endless wait for them to buy it, the endless wait for publication, and OMG the endless wait for your money! Now I finish a novel one week, edit it the next, then publish it, and two months later, make it rain, baby.
You have to be strong in all areas – your grammar, spelling, your ability to edit/copyedit yourself (I’m still catching errors in books in print, that I’ve missed after reading them a thousand times), to write a blurb, to make a book cover, to market and promote yourself…but you get all the profit. And there’s nobody “doing it wrong” to mess it up for you, other than yourself.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? Something you wish someone had told you at the beginning?

The hardest part of self pubbing, to me, was marketing. That was the one upside of tradpub, back in the day – you submitted your book, and they did all the hustling. Of course now they expect you to come ready-made with a fan base, Twitter followers, etc., so there’s no advantage there anymore. I was really loathe to do it at first – I grew up all “punk rock” and thought of advertising/marketing as, you know, infomercial shit, Billy Mayes shouting his way into your head, an inherently bad, bullshit thing.
Finally I had a moment of enlightenment – I realized I hated marketing because I hated sounding like a brochure. “I’m so excited to tell you about my new release!” Blah blah blah. I decided I’d just BE ME on Facebook, etc. Put my real personality out there instead of trying to sound the way I though I was supposed to sound.
So, that would be my advice, I guess – people are gonna connect with you because of your work, but also because they like you. So be you, don’t be a brochure, when it’s time to do your marketing.

 

I know you’ve had problems with Amazon before and their ridiculous censorship policies, but do you think that Amazon is doing all right for self-publishers? What would you like to see changed?

Well, NUMBER ONE would be, clear guidelines for what’s allowed. They say what they’ll ban is “pretty much what you’d expect.” What who would expect? Me, a libertarian sex-positive homo, or some bluenose in Arkansas who has a heart attack at an exposed tittie on TV? But keeping it vague is deliberate, of course, because it gives them leeway to change the rules any time without changing them on paper.
Number Two, which is more realistic, would be a set rate every month for the Kindle Select/Unlimited “borrow rate,” the amount writers get per borrow each month. It fluctuates all the time, $1.33, $1.39, etc. You don’t know what you earned last month until the middle of the next month. They should just part it at a certain amount and leave it there, I’d say $1.40, instead of leaving us all on pins and needles every month, as they arbitrarily decide how much more money to put into the fund and screw up people’s income forecasts. It’s like getting a pay raise/pay cut every month – very exhausting.

 

Do you ever get told by friends or family that you don’t write “real books”? I know I do. How do you respond if it happens?

No I don’t, actually. In my circle of friends, writing “gay erotica” is very cool! My mom’s response when I told her about my erotica career was, “Sure are a lot of weirdos out there.” The only book of mine she’s read is “Apollo’s Curse,” because there’s no sex in it. She loved it, but has no desire to read any of my other books!
I wrote a “real” book, a few years ago. I worked on it on and off for five years. It sold twelve copies. That’s the fate I gave Dane Gale in “Apollo’s Curse,” before he turned to writing romance novels. I gave him this exchange on the Greek island that pretty much says how I feel about writing romances now:

“But what I need, isn’t just…success, money, fame. I…what I’ve been writing, what the others before me wrote, it’s just…commercial fiction, airport fiction. Popular romances. I don’t want that to be my legacy, I don’t want that to be the last thing I ever write.”
“What’s wrong with romance? Don’t you bring pleasure into people’s lives? Don’t strange and wonderful stories heal their aches, take them from their sorrows?”
“Yes, but…”
“Maybe you’re being a bit selfish, yes?” He put on a dark, mocking scowl. “ ‘I am writing a Great Novel nobody will read, which is so much more important than making people happy.’”
I had to laugh. “Yes, I guess that is selfish. But…I have it in me, I know I do. To do something…wonderful. Something that’s so much more powerful, so much more…well, healing, if you will, than any little entertainment I concoct could ever do.” I looked at his shelves, saw the surprising variety of books – lots and lots of novels, Umberto Eco, Gunter Grass, Doris Lessing, George Eliot. “You know. You’ve read these books. You know how much more they do in the world than some…fluff could ever do.”
“Don’t underestimate the power of fluff. The power to make someone smile, to get them through to another day, take them away from their cares for a moment. Maybe later, you’ll have helped them feel stronger, maybe later they will read ‘Ulysses,’ yes?”

 

And finally, having nothing to do with writing at all, tell me about your dream vacation.

Oh boy. A whole summer in Europe. Nick in the “Kyle’s New Stepbrother” series gets to live out my fantasy, just moving from one place to another on a Eurail pass as the whim takes him. I’d have to have the money to do it right; Nick’s young and can crash in hostels and stretch a dollar! But I’d need my comforts. I’d love to see so much of France, Italy, Germany, Amsterdam, Barcelona…yeah, I’d need a whole summer!

 

Brad, I want to thank you again for stopping by and wish you good luck with your writing.

Thank you so much, Bey! I really appreciate your having me here!

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Interview with F.E. Feeley Jr., Horror and Romance Author

Today I’d like to welcome F.E. Feeley Jr. to my blog, author of the highly rated Memoirs of the Human Wraiths series.

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Hello and welcome to my blog, Frederick. Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions. :)

First off, let me say congratulations on the new book! I just finished Still Waters and rather enjoyed it. Can you tell us a little about it? And, where did you get the idea for the story?

Thank you so much for having me here, today. And thank you for buying and reading it. That means a great deal and I am glad you liked it.

Still Waters is about an average town in anywhere U.S.A really. I chose Michigan because that’s where I’m from, but the concept was little towns and desperation to keep secrets. It started off with the idea of a murdered kid. And it developed from there. Why was he killed? Who did it? What were the circumstances surrounding his death. Who loved him? To be honest, it was not just addressing the gay community, although the character is gay, but our nation as a whole. We’re seeing a lot of dead kids lately, Trayvon Martin, or kids who have taken their own lives and it sort of started compounding from there. I wanted to address issues such as image, and diversity, and the extremes people would go to keep the status quo.

 

You’re writing in a niche subgenre (horror) within an already niche genre (m/m romance). Have you found that it makes finding readers more difficult?

Yes. I do find it difficult to find readers. But I think people really need to understand something or maybe give my books a chance anyway, even if they aren’t particularly fond of horror or paranormal books. What I like to do, Is take everyday issues and throw them waaaaaay out into the world of ghosts and the paranormal. I do this to simply make them more digestible. It’s hard to write about the darker sides of human nature in a contemporary way. At least it is for me. So what I do, I thrill you a little and then hopefully get my point across somewhere in the book. And on top of that, who doesn’t love a good spooky story? I think if gay people are going to be represented in literature, they should be represented in all literature.

 

I see that you’ve gone the traditional publishing route. What made you decide on that?

I had no idea what I was doing. My husband would say I still don’t lol. But I was going through a hard time a couple of years ago and started journaling and once I’d written oodles of pages I sat back and asked myself, ‘What are you going to do with this?” So, I decided, why not take chunks out of it at a time and start wrapping them in fiction? And that is how The Haunting of Timber Manor was born. I’d sat down at my computer, asked myself how do spooky novels start and the answer came back, “On a dark and stormy night….” So I went from there. I never even knew this genre existed. I had no earthly idea. And then when I was done I went looking for a publisher. Submitted the story and forgot about it. I nearly had a stroke when I opened my email one day and there was a contract from Dreamspinner Press. After that, I figured, if they would take a chance on me, I’ll stick with them. I haven’t regretted a moment of it. Their staff is excellent. They treat you wonderfully. The process for publishing is always thorough from first drafts to art, they work right alongside you.

 

I love horror. The very first “grown-up” book I ever read was Stephen King’s It. What was the first horror story you read?

I was reading since I can remember. It started in middle school with R.L. Stein’s Fear Street books and went on to Christopher Pike. And then in high school I jumped forward into V.C.Andrews, Tami Hoag, and just about anything or anyone I could get my hands on. Then I was given Stephen King’s Wastelands, book 3 of The Dark Tower and I was instantly over the moon. I became a King fan real quick. The scariest book I ever read from him was The Shining.
I also became a Koontz fan as well. Lightning, The Mask, and Twilight Eyes are amazing.

 

Can you tell us some of your all-time favourite horror stories (books or movies)?

I am a thirty four year old man that sleeps with his closet door shut, thanks to 1982’s Poltergeist. I won’t get into the ocean past my waist thanks to Jaws. But my favorite books that I’ve read and reread is King’s The Stand and Koontz’s Twilight Eyes. Amazing books.

 

I remember after reading some stories, I had a few creepy nights. Has there been a horror story that make you keep the light on?

HAHAHAHAHA I forgot about this but yeah, King’s Cycle of the Werewolf. I was terrified for days and slept with the light on.

 

Why the romance aspect in your books?

I love serendipity. I love, love. I think love is the only that can save this world we live in. And I think that people need to see gay men in love to understand that it isn’t just sex that motivate us. I feel like, even though I write in this genre, I am part of a global discussion on this issue and as a gay man, I intend to not just join, but lead.

 

What’s next? Are you currently working on something?

I am kinda sorta working on something. I don’t know if it is going to come to fruition. I am hoping it does. But its sort of up in the air right now so we’ll see.

 

Any advice for aspiring writers? Anything you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?

Pay attention to the world around you. And take, I think it was Hemingway, take Hemingway’s advice and sit down at your device and bleed. Give it all you got.

 

And finally: what do you enjoy the most about writing?

The process of weaving a story together from an idea. And then going through the gamut of emotions along with everyone. And then dropping myself inside the story as a beacon so the reader doesn’t have to go through it alone. I have this personal rule. I will get you to your happy ending, but you have to go through the dark with me first. Your gonna earn it. I promise I’ll be with you through it, but yeah, you’re going through it.

Thanks again for letting me host you on my blog. Good luck and happy writing!

still-waters-feeley

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Interview with Joseph Lance Tonlet, author of the bestseller Grif’s Toy

Welcome back to my blog, Joseph!

Thanks so much for having me back, Bey—it’s such an honor!

 

So… You’ve been published for over a month now. How does that feel?

Wow. I’m not sure I can adequately convey the almost overwhelming emotions sharing Grif’s Toy with the world invoked. What started as a dream, almost two years ago now, has finally become a reality. It’s been truly amazing.

 

Grif’s Toy is doing rather well, I’d say. It ranks as an Amazon bestseller in a few categories and I saw that it was in the top ten for Gay Erotica. That fucking rocks, doesn’t it? Were you expecting this sort of reception at all?

*blush* Thanks!

Yeah, it’s been fortunate enough to spend a few weeks on the bestsellers list in a few categories. I honestly didn’t anticipate the reaction it’s received… No way I really could have. The entire experience has been nothing short of amazing! Grif’s Toy is a very personal story and having readers leave such incredible reviews—not to mention the heartfelt messages and emails folks have sent—yeah, it’s not something I could have ever anticipated.

 

Now that you’re a self-published author, do you have any advice for people looking to do the same? What have been some of the challenges you’ve met? What has worked for you? What would you do differently if you could turn back the clock?

I’ve talked a bit about this before, but self-publishing – as you know – is an incredible amount of work. Every single step in the process, from writing the story to readers finally being able to pick it up from their favorite marketplace, was a new one. I literally went from knowing absolutely nothing about publishing to offering both eBooks and traditional paperbacks of Grif’s Toy. To be honest, had I known exactly how much work was involved, I may not have had the courage to actually do it. But, with each step I gained invaluable knowledge that will now allow me to move forward with publishing additional works much more quickly. And, let me just say, most important in the process has been my friends. They’ve so unselfishly offered not only their valuable time, but also their unwavering support. Without question, I could NOT have done it without them!

 

What are you working on now? Can you tell us a little about them?

I’d be happy to. I have three projects in the works—all at different stages.

The first is Brothers LaFon. It’s completed and waiting in the wings. I’ve scheduled a release date of March 1st. It’s a VERY dark novelette (just over sixteen thousand words) and deals with the systematic torture and sexual abuse of one brother by another. I’m an erotic writer, so this torture and abuse are done, without question, to titillate and arouse readers. Also, I’d like to take a quick moment to make it clear that this story is in no way connected to the Tease and Denial Series (Grif’s Toy). Potential readers should heed and take very seriously all warnings and tags that accompany the blurb.

Second is Wes’ Denial. It’s the sequel to Grif’s Toy, and I have a target for a summer release. The story’s format is very similar to Grif’s Toy—meaning it covers several different timeframes and is non-linear. It not only delves into Wes’ past, but it is also a continuation of Grif’s Toy.

Third is a joint project with an amazing author that I’m completely thrilled about. But, I’ll save the details of that for another time. *wink*

*winks back* 

 

Your work is different. It’s downright challenging for some to read. Will that affect what you choose to write in the future?

It’s funny you should ask that. A friend and I were just talking about this very thing. However, it was in regard to the upcoming Brother’s LaFon; it is even darker—substantially so—than Grif’s Toy. My friend asked if I was worried about how it will be received. Intellectually, I’d be thrilled if it’s well received. However, when I’m actually writing, that’s not something I can allow myself to contemplate. If I worrying too much—about anything—it really stifles my creativity. In the end, I can only write what I write—and then hope readers enjoy and connect with it.

 

When publishing series, there is a pressure to get the next one out quick as a wink. Are you feeling it (I know I am!)? Does it affect what you focus on?

I published Grif’s Toy with absolutely no expectations at all. Zero. In fact, I’ll share something with you: a friend and I had a bet that it wouldn’t sell twenty-five copies in the first month. I was betting against myself, by the way. That the pre-orders alone far surpassed that number astonished me. And what it’s gone on to do since—there are times when I find it completely incomprehensible. I’m SO humbled and grateful.

But back to your question, yeah, there is a bit of pressure now. People connected with Grif in a way I never thought possible. Therefore, I really want Wes’ Denial to be special, to be something Grif’s fans will enjoy.

 

I don’t know if you’ve already answered this somewhere before, but let’s say someone wants to turn Grif’s Toy into a movie. Who would play Grif and Wes? What about the other characters?

Hmm, I’m assuming you mean a mainstream, theatrical movie. But, I’m gonna go with the more adult type of flick—because I’m naughty that way—and say Tayte Hanson would make the perfect Grif, and Rogan Richards would be my choice for Wes.

tayte-rogan

 

And finally: Do you plan on staying self-published?

I thoroughly enjoy being self-published for several reasons. One, I’m pretty much a control freak and being able to do things exactly the way I want to is very satisfying. Two, I don’t do well, creatively, with deadlines. And three, I’m probably the world’s worst procrastinator. So yeah, being self-published seems like a real good fit.

It does indeed. :) Thanks again for stopping by, Joseph, and good luck with your next works! I know I’m looking forward to them. 

Want to know more about Grif’s Toy? Visit Joseph’s site for buy links, reviews, and sample downloads. You can also check out my review here.

Varian Krylov – Author

Today we have Varian Krylov, author of Dangerously Happy and the recently published and highly-acclaimed Bad Things

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Howdy Varian and welcome to my blog!

Why don’t you describe yourself as a writer in ten words or less.

Intuitive, selfish, indulgent, seeking, probing, hopeful, despairing, provocative, problematic, improving.

 

Why do you write?

I’ve always written, because I’ve always felt the urge to write. Well, I shouldn’t exaggerate—I started when I was five or six. There always seems to be a seed of a story sprouting in my head, and once I feel it tickling my brain, writing it down is like scratching an itch.

I also love playing with language. There were a few years where I wrote nothing but poetry, and those notebooks fill up two copy paper boxes in my storage unit.

But I also write my novels because I enjoy exploring my ideas about relationships and sexuality through the characters I dream up. More and more, I realize that in some ways I’m two people, sexually, and there’s a side of my sexual psyche that can only be satisfied through fiction. That side of me absolutely thrives on dynamics and practices that I don’t really enjoy in my personal life. And even though it’s infinitely more laborious, I enjoy writing these kinds of stories more than reading them.

 

Have you ever hated one of your characters?

Not any of my main characters, but there are a few secondary characters—especially in After—that I’d like to put in an iron maiden.

 

Any thoughts about the occasional and surprising vitriol when there’s a little F inserted into M/M?

Haha, it’s a perplexing phenomenon. When I wrote my first three novels, I was always anxious readers were going to stone me for spicing up a primarily hetero romance with a side serving of manlove, but I never heard a word of complaint. I confess I was startled when I got schooled in the dangers of letting a lady in on the action in a gay romance. It’s not so surprising to me that a gay man wouldn’t want to read that, but what caught me off guard was how many female readers of m/m are adamant about not wanting any sex scenes to include women. Personally, I’m very drawn to menage stories, and I find a three way dynamic not only exciting, but in many ways it feels like the ideal balance, at least in fiction. And I write a lot of M/M/F menage. But as sexual beings and as readers, we all have things that repel us, emotionally and erotically, and I’ve come to understand better that for a lot of readers of M/M, the appearance of a vagina destroys the fantasy they’re immersed in.

 

What made you go indie instead of going through a traditional publishing model?

I had a brief brush with a publisher, who approached me years ago, before self-publishing was so accessible, about publishing Abduction. But during the negotiation of the contract, I came to feel that I was being left with too much of the risk, for how much share in the reward I was handing over to the publisher, so ultimately I declined their offer.

Nowadays, it seems to me that if you’re willing to do a bit of tedious work, like formatting your manuscript and hiring an editor and someone to do a decent cover design, you’re better off self-publishing and keeping all your royalties. Because publishers seem to do very little, considering what a huge percentage of your royalties you’re giving up.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers on how to cope with bad reviews?

Be professional. Event the best writers in the world have critics, and no book is going to be universally liked. Let it sting for a second, then think about it calmly, and see if there’s anything in the review that can help you be a better writer.

My first novel, Abduction, is one I still get long and heartfelt notes about; something about that story really struck some people. But a couple reviewers were pretty brutal in criticizing it as being wordy, redundant, and way too long. I was so in love with my story that for years I shrugged off those critiques. But recently I went back and read it, and had to admit they were dead right. So I edited the hell out of it, and I think it’s a much better book, now.

 

Since this is for National M/M month, what do you feel you bring to the genre?

Enthusiasm! Haha.

I’d say a distinguishing characteristic of all my novels is that the central characters confront and overcome their fears through sex. I think I’m a bit notorious for how extensive and explicit the sexual encounters are in my writing, and they’re always twined up with the characters coming to terms with something that’s holding them back from fulfillment and happiness. My novels are all dark, to different degrees and in different ways; they express my perspective that in life, on both the individual and societal level, fear is omnipresent and corrosive. So I thrive on exploring people struggling through their fear, taking terrible, beautiful risks, and clawing their way to joy.

 

What are you working on now?

I have a massive three-novel work in progress: these three new novels will be set in the same world—a fictional, present-day region in the chaos of civil war. So, it’s a dangerous, complex story world, with high-stakes conflict that will go far beyond the perilous dance of eroticism and romance.

 

Thank you, Varian!

Beth Brock – M/M Author

Next up we have Beth Brock, author of the up and coming novel, King of the Storm. 

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Hiya Beth – welcome to my blog!

Can you describe yourself as a writer in ten words or less?

I’m a bully who relentlessly picks on gender stereotypes.

 

You’ve just submitted your first novel to a publisher. How does that feel?

Terrifying. Like I’m the first one to get laid in a horror flick.

 

What was the impetus behind going with traditional publishing?

Connection and security.

 

Can you tell us a little about the story?

My novel is a MM Erotic Romantic Fantasy set in a made-up world, but loosely based off of Ancient Greek mythology. I’d love to say that it’s a pure and true romance, but I can’t. It seems to be more about a demigod hero who doesn’t want to be a hero, fighting against the expectations of the mortal society in which he lives in, and the meddling of the gods. There’s definitely drama (these are the Greek gods), and there is the occasional tender moment, but it’s mostly fighting and fucking. *grin*

 

What do you struggle with the most in your writing?

Making the scenery come alive, so that it serves more of a purpose to the story.

 

Since someone told me this is National M/M month or something, what do you think you bring to the genre?

I had never read Romance, of any type, before I started my novel. I finished my first draft and then realized that maybe I should read a romance, and maybe see if there were any works like mine out there. Mostly I think I was trying to justify the fact that I had written a dirty story. I was partly successful.

I found some great Romance that I truly respect, and I’ll continue to read MM. But I still haven’t found a story that’s quite like mine. Maybe that’s a good thing. Or not. I don’t know. I do know that I can contribute something to the genre.

 

You and I have talked about having a little F in our M/M – how do you think that will effect the reception of your work?

I don’t know exactly, but I can tell you how I felt about writing it.

I never felt so much disappointment over my characters’ limitations, as I did during those moments between my protagonist and the woman in his life. I wanted to change both of them, make them more appealing somehow, but I couldn’t. They were who they were, the ugliness and the beauty. It was an agonizing struggle for me to accept that.

 

And finally: what do your characters mean to you?

My characters are people who are reality challenged – they exist only in my imagination. But I want others to see them too. I want them to be “real”.

 

Thank you, Beth – and good luck with the novel!

Thank you for the interview. This was fun.

Beth Brock
bethbrockbooks@gmail.com
bethbrockbooks.com
Google+

 

Joseph Lance Tonlet – M/M Author

Today’s interview is with Joseph Lance Tonlet, up and coming author of Grif’s Toy (November, 2014)

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Hi Bey. Hi everyone.

Let me start of by saying what a privilege it is to be here. I’m throughly humbled; not only from the fledgling writer perspective, but also being interviewed by someone whose work and creativity I so fervently admire. Yeah, Bey, I consider your invitation a true honor…thanks!

*Grin* My pleasure, Joseph, and thank you!

Why don’t you describe yourself as a writer in ten words or less.

Okay, right out of the gate, I’m gonna be a rebel. I hope you’ll indulge me *naughty smile*. Stephen King is quoted as saying, “The road to hell is paved with adjectives.” He, along with many other successful writers/editors/etc. have voiced an extreme dislike of adjectives. I, on the other hand, adore them. So, rather than describing myself in ten words, I’m going to instead share the ten adjectives which best describe me as a writer.

01. Indefatigable
02. Passionate
03. Empathetic
04. Inexpert
05. Sensitive
06. Enthusiastic
07. Appreciative
08. Provocative
09. Erotic
10. Twisted

What prompted you to start writing?

As with many M/M writers, I’m an M/M reader first. I started out in my early teens reading Gordon Merrick, and continue to enjoy the genre with works by contemporary writers such as yourself, Kol Anderson, Jack L. Pyke, Rhys Ford, and countless others.

As for how I started writing. A friend and I were doing a buddy read of Brook McKinley’s Shades of Gray. One night we sat at dinner, talking about the book, and he asked, “Do you ever think about writing a novel of your own?” The truth was, I’d been pondering doing just that—for years. I love writing, I love reading, and writing a book had been a dream of mine since high school. With my friend’s unwavering encouragement, I finally put pen to paper and wrote Grif’s Toy.

What character was/is the hardest for you to write and why?

Without a doubt, this would be Alex. Alex is one of the main characters of Brothers; my current work in progress. Alex is systematically, and repeatedly abused—from early childhood through young adulthood—by his sadistic, elder brother, Miah. (Note: Brothers, with its heavy non-con storyline, will cater to a niche M/M readership.) Telling Alex and Miah’s complex, and oftentimes disturbing, story has kept me up more than a few nights. And that, in and of itself, has been difficult; not being able to sleep simply because the story isn’t fully written yet.

Do you write every day? When do you find is the best time to write?

When I’m writing, I do write everyday. However, there are countless aspects of being ‘an author’ that, unfortunately, have very little to do with the actual ‘fun’ part of writing. When I am writing, I tend to be most inspired in the early morning (before 6AM) [Bey: way too early] or in the late evening (after 9PM). The quietness which accompanies these times of day strokes my inner creativity in a unique way.

Since this is for National M/M Month, what do you think you bring to the genre in particular?

Wow, that’s a tough one. Well, I believe every writer brings their own distinctive style to the genre. But, more importantly, writing is an incredibly personal endeavor—perhaps one of the most personal of all art forms—and the end result can be astonishingly intimate. My first and second books, to a large extent, detail my personal journey; they contain my innermost fears, hopes, setbacks, and triumphs. Will other authors have similar life experiences? Sure. Without question. Will anyone else tell the same story—in the same way? I don’t think that’s even remotely possible. All of us, every writer, tells his or her stories in their own beautiful and unique way. That, more than anything, is why I return to the genre over and over again; I enjoy reading those one-of-a-kind narratives which only that single author is able to tell.

How much of yourself do you put into your work?

Grif’s Toy (due out later this year) and the followup, Wes’ Denial (slated for summer of next year) are both incredibly personal. Thus, there is a lot of ‘me’ in those books. However, that said, they are works of fiction and not strictly autobiographical—not by any means. Not to mention, I write erotica and my personal life doesn’t compare to the escapades of Grif and Wes.

Everyone gets bad reviews… how do you think you’ll react?

Oh, this is the easiest one so far; I’ll cry! Next question?

We’ve talked about how a little whiskey gets the creative juices flowing. What else does it for you?

Ahh, if that’s an offer, I’ll take a couple of fingers of scotch—on the rocks, please! And, Bey, since you seem to know everyone, I’m wondering if there’s any chance of procuring Logan McCree as tonight’s waiter? Yep, good company, scotch, and tattoos—the perfect evening! Seriously though, I find a bit of scotch does do tremendous things when writing particular scenes *wink, wink*. I feel a bit freer and looser, the characters seem to talk (or not, as the case may be) more, and my fingers almost move across the keyboard of their own volition. I recently read an interesting article about great authors who were also alcoholics. While my writing (and alcohol consumption) are light years from those listed, I do appreciate the liberation a cocktail offers when it comes to getting the ‘creative juices flowing.’ Aside from the occasional grain based spirit, what entices me to write most is the calmness of utter quiet—and muses of course. The afore mentioned Logan McCree, Colby Keller, and many others. Thank you men, for your selfless devotion and your steadfast dedication to all of us who find our muses in you *grin*

Again, sincere thanks for having me, Bey…and I can’t wait to read Sacrificed: Heart Beyond the Spires.

JLT =)

Thanks for stopping by, Joseph!

Jamie Lake – M/M Author

This month I’m doing something a little different! Let’s do some interviews, shall we?

First off is Jamie Lake, author of The TrainerBoyfriend for Rent, and the new Bad Boy series

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Welcome!

As a writer of M/M novels, what challenges do you face? Though it is growing, the popularity of M/M novels is still in its infancy. How does that affect marketing, expectations, frustrations?

I think my greatest challenge right now is writing the best book I can write. M/M readers are real connoisseurs of the genre. They can be very picky about what they expect and if you don’t don’t write up to their standards, they’re very vocal about it. I’d love to see a more concentrated effort of the M/M community, coming out of the closet and introducing the books to people who are first time readers.  But I love writing gay romance books. The fans have been my life-savers and have been incredibly supportive and kind and generous.

Can you talk a little about your novels? Which are your favourites, and do your fans tend to like those more?

Well, of course each of my novels is like my baby but right now, I just finished the 5th book in the BAD BOY: Naughty at Night series. It’s about a kindergarten teacher who needs money so bad that he decides to become an erotic massage at night. He’s juggling this double life, while dating a cop and is under the control of a mafia-esque type of character.  Readers really seem to like the concept.

What do you prefer writing: standalone or series?

Definitely series because you get to explore every asset of the characters lives and the readers always ask for more.

What sort of criticism have you faced? Have you specifically faced criticism because of your portrayal of gay relationships? 

Well, I don’t get that kind of criticism from M/M readers. I’m a guy writing in a genre that is predominately female writers, which is ironic but it gives me some advantages because I know the intricacies of a real life M/M relationship. At the same time, most of my readers are female so sometimes female authors have an advantage over me.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors of the M/M genre?

I think read as many M/M books as possible. Know that no matter how great of a story you tell, not everyone is going to like your books and that’s okay.  There’s something for everyone in this genre and there are more than enough readers to to support everyone.  Most M/M authors are very supportive of each other so if this is the genre you’re passionate about, you’ll be very welcome.

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Thank you for stopping by Jamie!