Monday, November 28, 2011

Also Starring... and Walk-On Parts.

aka Secondary Characters.

People rarely live in a vacuum. Even the prisoner in solitary has the guards in his or her world. In the wider world, those we have as friends and family helps to define our own place in it. So for me the people around my heroes are as important as the two guys themselves, be they family, friends, ex-lovers, work colleagues, opponents, rivals, or just the little old lady who is helped across the road. Show Not Tell is engraved in poker-work on the surface of my brain, and while I don't always manage to follow its advice, secondary characters are one of the major weapons in that arsenal. Whether I'm writing in the 1st person, or a tightly focused 3rd person, how my hero feels about and reacts to these people tells the reader a lot about the kind of person the hero is. 

But, and it's a big but, the secondary characters mustn't overwhelm the leads, and that is a difficult line to walk. What I, as the writer, think is a good balance between the leads and the also starring, isn't always the same to the reader. Some readers prefer the concentration to be solely on the leading characters and have no time or inclination for the 'cast of thousands' approach.  That's no reason for me to avoid attempting to create believable multi-dimensional characters, even if I'm not intending to write a series based in a particular universe, following the lives of the various people introduced in the original book.

Of course, the also starring doesn't have to be human - or sentient alien *g*. In my recent release, Game On, Game Over, TBC [aka That Bloody Cat] played a significant role in the latter part of the story. In my latest release, Home and Heart, Golden Retriever Bracken and Curly Coated Retriever Teazle, had walk-on parts. Here the trick was to avoid over-sentimentality that can go against the run of the story [TBC is an amalgam of various cats I have known, while Bracken and Teazle were and are members of my family].

Another variety of secondary character can be a place. Stokesay Castle in the Welsh Marches is a wonderful example of a fortified manor house, and made the ideal basis for the Fitzwarrens' albatross of a ruin in The Fitzwarren Inheritance trilogy. Certain TV series have excelled at these kind of co-stars - Star Trek's USS Enterprise, Starsky & Hutch - Starsky's Ford Torino, Supernatural - Dean Winchester's '67 Chevrolet Impala, and I could make a case for MacLeod's barge moored on the Seine in Highlander: The Series. Does that seem silly? Think about how James T Kirk feels about the Enterprise and all the lives held within her. And Dean's loyalty to the Impala, given to him by his father and probably the only true home he and his brother have had for most of their lives. Important character points there, for both men.

~~~ Chris Quinton ~ Gay Fiction Across Genres  ~~~
My website is here and I'm on FaceBook here  - Manifold Press is here
Silver Publishing is here - GLBT Bookshelf Wiki is here

Monday, November 21, 2011

Love Means... Healing

I have received more notes from readers asking me to tell Len and Chris’s story than I have on any other topic.  After releasing Love Means…No Fear, the notes started and didn’t stop.  I tried for a while to come up with a story and decided that there simply wasn’t enough there for a full novel, so instead I wrote Love Means… Healing.  This is Len and Chris’s story and it takes place between the end and the epilogue of Love Means… No Shame.  I really wanted this story to explain how Len allowed himself to find love again and to heal from Cliff’s death.  What I got as I started to write was a story about how both Len and Chris help each other to heal form very different wounds. I really hope you like it.

~Andrew Grey

Seven months ago, Len Parker lost his partner of more than twenty years, and he isn’t sure how to feel about his blossoming attraction to Chris, one of his farmhands. Hesitant and still hurt, Len remains aloof and distant until he’s goaded into teaching Chris to ride.
Fresh out of a thirty-year career with the Marines, Chris can explore his sexuality openly for the first time in his life, but what he needs more than anything is peace. He’s convinced Len doesn’t like him until he digs a little deeper, and then, armed with hope, Chris sets out to prove that love can provide the healing he and Len so desperately need.

“Couldn’t sleep, so I got up and went for a ride,” Len answered and went right back to work. He really didn’t want to talk about it, and Len knew Geoff would understand. The clomping of horse’s hooves on the concrete told him Geoff had moved on, and Len continued filling the wheelbarrow before wheeling the mess to the mulch pile. On his way back, he passed Eli walking his horse out into the yard.
“Morning, Len,” Geoff’s partner of six months called with a bright smile on his face.
“Morning, Eli,” Len answered with more energy than he felt. “Do you have a class this morning?”
“At ten. I have most everything ready,” Eli answered before mounting. Len pulled off his cap and waved it at the two of them as they started their ride. He saw them both wave back and heard the conversation and laughter fade as they got farther away. Placing his hat back on his head, he went back to work. As he finished the stall, Len heard tires crunch on the gravel drive outside, followed by the sound of truck doors closing and then footsteps on the gravel and into the barn. The tractor started with a deep rumble in the equipment shed.
“Morning, Len,” Lumpy called from the doorway of the tack room, the list of tasks in his hand. “Pete’s gonna get those last hayfields roll-baled before it rains. Where do you want us to put them when we’re done? You said yesterday that we didn’t need it.”
“You can leave it in the fields. The Hansens are going to take it all. They enlarged their dairy herd, and he said he’d be happy to take whatever we have. I’ll call and tell him he can start picking up the bales in a few hours,” Len said, and he saw a curious look on Lumpy’s face, like he wanted to ask something, but wasn’t sure if he should.
“I’ll tell Pete and then get on the list.” Lumpy looked the sheet over. “I’m gonna start with those fences, and I’ll let you know if I find anything that needs fixing. See you this afternoon,” Lumpy added before walking out of the barn and getting to work. Len climbed the stairs to the full hayloft and opened the only trap door that wasn’t covered by hay. Lifting a bale, he dropped it through the door to the barn floor below.
“Len, I can get that for you,” a voice behind him said, making him jump. Len landed near the edge of the door and nearly lost his balance. Big hands caught his arm, pulling him back from the brink and against a hard, firm body before both of them fell against the stacked bales of hay, with Len caught between the hay and Chris, the hand Geoff had hired a few weeks earlier. The scent of fresh hay mixed with the smell of soap and man, and for a second Len remembered what it felt like to be held and went with it until his thoughts cleared.
“You scared the shit out of me,” Len said, pulling away before storming toward the stairs.
“It was an accident. Christ, I only came up to help. There’s no need to take my head off!” Chris retorted louder than was needed, and Len heard the whap and thump as a bale was flung to the floor below. Len descended the stairs in a huff. He wasn’t angry with Chris, not really. It was his reaction whenever he got close to the man that kept throwing him.
At the bottom of the stairs, Len stopped. He could hear Chris moving around, heavy footsteps stomping on the loft floor, the thump of the bales as they fell with more force than necessary, but more than anything he could see the man’s chiseled face and bright, intelligent eyes, which looked as though they’d seen things Len could never understand. Chris also had a body that had seen hard physical work for years. Chris appeared to be nearing fifty, the way Len was, but Chris didn’t look like any other fifty-year-old Len had ever seen. Not that it mattered. Len was not going to find out if the muscles beneath Chris’s flannel shirt were as large as they looked, or if that glimpse of dark hair that sometimes peeked over the top of his shirt extended further. That was not going to happen. Len pushed the images out of his mind as he stomped out of the barn toward the house, figuring he might as well make breakfast. It would give him something to do, and everyone would be hungry in an hour or so.

Seven months ago, Len Parker lost his partner of more than twenty years, and he isn’t sure how to feel about his blossoming attraction to Chris, one of his farmhands. Hesitant and still hurt, Len remains aloof and distant until he’s goaded into teaching Chris to ride.
Fresh out of a thirty-year career with the Marines, Chris can explore his sexuality openly for the first time in his life, but what he needs more than anything is peace. He’s convinced Len doesn’t like him until he digs a little deeper, and then, armed with hope, Chris sets out to prove that love can provide the healing he and Len so desperately need.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Men of Riverside

This month, on November 21, Convincing Landon (Men of Riverside, #7) will be released at Total-E-Bound.

The series has been a total joy to write, even though it got a little complicated at times. Having eight books that are interconnected to the degree the volumes in Men of Riverside are, has been an interesting challenge. Not only are a lot of characters involved, but the timeline goes as far back as twenty years, and ‘current events’ of the series itself stretch over three years. So, planning has been a big part of this.
But the most important part, for me, at least, in any writing adventure, is finding out more about the characters. Quite often they come to me from dreams, but sometimes I get to see just a part of a person, then have to find out more about them as I write. It is just like getting to know someone in ‘real life’, in many ways, and can be just as surprising.
Like with any series, I am sad to see it end. Well, end for now. Men of Riverside 8 is already written (Helping Harry) and will be released in January. I have a feeling I will return to the series in the future, so you never know.
For now, I hope you enjoy Convincing Landon, in which both Landon and Kendall will need a lot of convincing before they finally admit that they were meant ot be together. In the tradition of the series:
For those who never give up hope that luck, determination and love may bring separated lovers back together for the happy ending we all crave.



Afraid of being openly gay, Landon rejected Kendall after a brief affair. Will they be able to make a fresh start when chance reunites them years later?
Landon Tully is a social worker who only returned to Riverside for his father’s funeral. But when a job opportunity opens up, he decides to stay for a while. Within days he runs into Kendall Gable, the man he’d thought was too young for him eight years ago – only now Kendall is all grown up and on the opposite side of a bidding contest for the land Landon has been asked to obtain to build a homeless shelter.
Kendall has made a life for himself as an architect. Focusing on work has helped him fill the hole in his life that Landon left behind. Running into him is painful, but helps him realise some of the issues in his professional life need fixing.
Will Kendall be able to convince himself, and Landon, that they deserve a life together after all?

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Why I’m Writing M/M by Silvia Violet

I’ve been reading m/m romance for years. One of my first publications was an m/m/f where the initial relationship was between the two men. I’ve written plenty of m/m/f since, but until this spring I’d never written an m/m book. So why the change?

I’ve been reading a lot more m/m in the last few years so that may have influenced my muse. I also tried my hand at first person in an m/f story and realized how much I love being in deep male POV. I had so much fun getting into the thoughts of my male character that I decided to write another book in this series. I started outlining, and my hero laughed at me as I tried pair him with a female vampire. He couldn’t believe I hadn’t figured out that he was gay. And thus my first m/m, Sex on the Hoof was born. I’ve since published three more m/m stories and have three more under contract and many more in various stages of writing.

Along with enjoying writing from the male perspective, I think my muse is heading in a new direction because I love to be challenged by what I’m writing. Love it or not, writing solely from a male POV is challenging. I have to remember that in general men use different speech patterns from women and a man would likely approach a budding relationship differently than I would. Then there’s the challenge of thinking like a man without falling into male stereotypes. My recent writing has forced me to consider issues about gender and sexuality from new vantage points. I’m being challenged creatively and intellectually.

For several of my stories, I’ve created sci fi or paranormal settings in which sexual orientation is not an issue. I love making up worlds in which the relationship is a challenge in itself without the burden of prejudice or the need to hide. Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in such a place? Writing m/m lets me live in this pleasant fantasy world for awhile.

My most recent m/m release is Paws on Me, I fell in love with my hardass cop, Seth, and Brandon, the fun-loving bear shifter who captures his heart. I hope you will love them too.

Protect and Serve: Paws on Me by Silvia Violet
Lieutenant Seth Morrison loves being a cop, but with budget cuts and crime both on the rise, he’s stopped making time for anything but his job.
On the outside, Brandon Lord is an easy-going, flirtatious club owner. On the inside he’s a man trying to overcome a difficult past.
When a murder investigation brings the two men together, passion roars to life. They’re both willing to break the rules to be together. Because as mismatched as they might seem, each man is exactly what the other needs.
I’m Seth Morrison. I’m a cop, a police lieutenant to be precise. I’ve been on the force more years than I want to think about. I’ve seen good men get killed, turn dirty, lose themselves in the bottle, lose their fucking minds, but I’m still here doing what I do. I don’t know any other life. People tell me I need a break, a vacation, to relax. I don’t want to fucking relax. I just want to do my job and keep this city from falling apart.
I park my car, grab my coffee from the cup holder, and charge up the front steps of the station. I could take the side door, it’s closer to my office, but I love the chaos of the bullpen. When I open the door, I breathe deeply, enjoying the variety of smells: coffee that’s been on the warmer far too long, the sickeningly sweet smell of candy and doughnuts, pine-scented cleaner from the scrubbing the janitors gave the floors last night, and something unnamable that simply smells like cops and hard work. I shake my head as I try to imagine not being here nearly 24/7. This is where I belong.
My stomach rumbles. I should’ve had dinner, but after pretending an afternoon nap was a night’s sleep, I’m running late. I’ll grab something from the vending machine while I dream about a juicy burger and thick home fries. It sure would be nice to have someone cook for me. I don’t seem to get along with stoves. Years ago, I tried being married. That worked for about 30 seconds. My wife wanted me to work shorter hours. I wanted her to talk less, or maybe never.
Friends tell me I should make an effort to date, but I’m more comfortable at a gruesome homicide scene than making small talk at dinner with a woman or a man. Yeah, I like both. I stopped going out with men when I entered the academy. I just couldn’t deal with the shit the guys would give me. Now, I don’t advertise what I like, but I pick up a guy now and then. I’m discreet, but if somebody finds out, I’ll deal.
One-night stands I can handle, but relationships are beyond me. People think police work is draining, but I’d rather spend all day in the field and all night at my desk filling out fucking paperwork — and often I do — than try to decode relationship signals. I inevitably screw things up and never understand why.
Sex I need. Romance I don’t.
My phone rings. I pull it out of my pocket hoping the call will save me from the mountain of paperwork on my desk. It’s Drew Danvers, detective and vampire. That’s right, a vampire who works for the good guys. We’ve got a werewolf in homicide too. And he’s a damn fine cop.
I remember when the shifters came out of the closet, scaring the hell out of us humans. One by one other monsters made themselves known. Most people assumed they were all assholes who wanted to eat us, but I quickly learned not to judge a man because he sucked blood or turned into a wolf. I judge men based on how they treat others.
I answer the call. “What’s up, Detective?”
“Two dead werewolves found in a closet at Shift. Hacked up pretty bad. The scene’s a circus. Jenkins called in sick. I’m on my own, and –”
“I’ll be there in ten.”
“Thanks, sir.”
“No problem. Murder scene or paperwork, which would you choose?”
* * *
I step inside the club. A crime lab team is there and several uniformed officers are talking with employees. I spot Drew in the entryway of an office. He’s frowning as he questions a tall hairy hunk of a man. I’ve seen this man around the area several times, and just like every other time, he makes my cock sit up and take notice.
Our most recent encounter was a week ago. When I want to grab a beer and be left the fuck alone, I go to Mitch’s, a dive just down the street from Shift. Last time I spent the evening there, he sat next to me at the bar and came on strong. I was in a shitty mood. I wanted him, and it pissed me off. He’s not my type. He’s young, hip, and outrageously flirtatious. I walked away, but I regretted it later that night when I couldn’t stop fantasizing about him.
The man looks my way and catches me staring. His grin says he knows the direction my thoughts are going. Fucking bastard winks at me. Drew scowls.
I turn to face him. He grins down at me, that same cocky-as-fuck little smile he’d given me earlier, making me even more aware of how close we are and how big he is. At 6’2, I’m hardly small, but he’s got several inches on me. And while I’ve got a rather thick pelt, the fur visible above the vee of his t-shirt is astounding.
He smiles mischievously. “You gonna cuff me if you take me in?”
“Impeding a murder investigation will get you thrown in jail.”
He rolls his eyes. “I found two dead guys in my closet when I came to work tonight. My business is shut down, and I’ll be losing money every minute that you’re here. But at least I have a sense of humor.”
“Well, I don’t.”
He shakes his head. “Are you taken too?”
I take another step back. “You’re making a lot of assumptions.”
I look over at Drew and realize he and Jason are grinning like loons. Fuck. All I need is the two of them ragging me.
I glare at Drew. “Detective, do you think you can question this man without killing him?”
“Fine. Fleetfoot, head back to the lab. Take my car. I’ll get a ride with Danvers.” I throw him my keys, and he snatches them out of the air as he gives Drew’s hand a final squeeze. Jason is better in the lab than any tech we have. We only send him into the field when we’re desperately short-handed. I run a hand through my hair, wishing I knew how I’m going to hold the homicide division together if we don’t get more funds.
He holds out his hand. “I’m Brandon Lord. I own Shift.”
“Lieutenant Morrison.” I shake his hand. His skin is surprisingly smooth, his grip tight and warm. I want to feel those big hands running over me. I want to rub his furry body with my own. Fuck! I should assign someone else to this case right now and get the hell away from him. But some crazy restlessness he’s dredged up in me makes me fight my instincts.
“Nice to meet you, Lieutenant.” His voice is low and rich. And his grin lets me know he’s well aware of my body’s reaction to him.
I need to get away. His smell alone is making me hard. “I’m not here to play games. Drop the act and treat this case seriously, or I’ll find an excuse to throw your ass in jail.”
He grins. Fuck, he knows he’s got me rattled. “I’d never kill anyone, Lieutenant. I’m just a cuddly teddy bear.”
The bear shifter and the bear. Ridiculous. I need to leave now. This man is no cuddly toy. I don’t think he’s our murderer, but he’s far smarter than he wants me to believe and likely far more dangerous. “I know what cuddling leads to.”
Brandon laughs, a deep, infectious sound. I can’t help but respond. Now I want him more than ever. Taking this case was a supremely stupid idea, staying on it now is unprofessional.
But I won’t walk away.
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by Silvia Violet