…and what a fun five years it’s been…
The Novel Approach is celebrating five years in the online M/M romance community.
Five years ago, I was also beginning a journey— in my case into the world of publishing, after decades of secret writing. My first book that year, Lies and Consequences, was a self-pub experiment that I enjoyed despite its epically amateur production (from the inept home-made cover to total lack of content help.) My second, a month later, was Life Lessons, released from MLR Press with professional editing (fewer dialog tags), cover (oooh, stock pictures exist), distribution (I’m on freaking Amazon!), and promotion including reviews. Which led me to online review blogs, and the community that is M/M romance.
There’ve been changes, and ups and downs, through these five years. I’ve learned some photoshop fun (like this guy in a red power tie, whom I’ve convinced to read my book.) And also learned how smart it is to get a pro to do my actual covers for me. I’ve got up the nerve to request reviews, and been warmed by the response. I’ve watched M/M genre stories branch out more and more, with different characters, and plots, and relationships, as we expand the concept of what a romance can look like.
I’ve been writing a wider range too. I do love cop-and-teacher, or out-for-you older guys like John and Ryan in The Rebuilding Year. My first review here was in 2013 – a 5 star for my freebie short, Like the Taste of Summer, a simple, college, coming out story. I’m still proud of that one.
But five years ago I probably wouldn’t have written the moral ambiguity of Tracefinder’s Nick Rugo, torn between his duty as a cop and the man he cares for, with no good answers in sight. Or the psychological complexity of Brian Kerr, trying to change the self-preservation strategies of a lifetime. I love the new challenges. How do I respect the psychological realities of readers, and yet let Brian be unique in trying to overcome his dyslexia and dysfunctional coping skills? How dark can I make a character and still redeem him? (Can Brian’s brother Damon ever become a hero?) I’m writing the third book in the series— still looking for a good “C” word for the title, and still figuring out how these two guys will build a long-term life together.
As the genre stretches, we’ll no doubt continue to bicker about what is really romantically happy (open relationships?) or really accurate representation. We’ll still sometimes just want a warm, fuzzy, simple HEA as two guys kiss their way into the sunset. But we’ll also celebrate books that take chances and go new places. Blogs like The Novel Approach, where thoughtful reviewers share their personal take on the stories, and where authors have a platform to become a little more real to their readers, will continue to be part of that journey.
So… thanks for inviting me to share this Happy Blogiversary!
Thanks so much to Kaje for the good blogiversary wishes! In the spirit of celebrating you, the readers, she’s giving away an e-copy of the first two books in the Tracefinder series, Tracefinder: Contact and Tracefinder: Changes
What could an undercover cop and a drug lord’s pet psychic have in common?
Brian Kerr has spent years hiding behind a facade of mental slowness. His brother and sister got all three of them off the streets and into a cushy life, under the protection of a dangerous criminal. But to keep that safety, Brian has to use his Finding talent to track down the boss’s enemies. Although he pretends not to know what he’s really doing, each Find takes its toll, and he’s trapped in a life he hates, losing touch with his true self.
Nick Rugo’s job is to protect and serve the people of Minneapolis as an undercover cop. He isn’t closeted, but he isn’t out at work, and there’s a wild, angry side to him that he’s managed to keep hidden until now. When he’s assigned to bring Brian’s boss to justice, he intends to use anything and anyone it takes to do that.
Nick initially sees Brian as a pawn to be played in his case, but he keeps getting glimpses of a different man behind the slow, simpleminded mask. As the two men get to know each other, it becomes clear they share secrets, some of which might get them both killed.
Brian can Find a lost child or a wanted criminal, but when his secret gets out, even Nick’s skills and connections may not be enough to keep them safe.
Brian Kerr is now free of his dangerous boss and his domineering brother. He’s eager to start using his psychic Finding talent to help people, if he can figure out how to do that safely. His dyslexia, and his tendency to act simpleminded under stress, make building his new life a daunting challenge. And while his not-quite-boyfriend, Nick, is willing to support him, in bed and out of it, Brian doesn’t want to lean on Nick. If their relationship is going anywhere, he has to be a full partner and handle his own problems.
Nick Rugo’s walking a tightrope instead of settling into the ordinary cop’s life he’d hoped for. He’s hiding too many things from too many people. He has told professional and unprofessional lies that will come back to haunt him. Now, with Brian determined to start Finding again, he’s not sure he can protect the man he cares for. If all that wasn’t enough to make him start punching walls, he also has a suspicion that Brian’s brother Damon and sister Lori may be out there, lurking, ready to complicate their lives.