Spectacularly Broken has been nominated for three Goodreads M/M Romance Awards! It is listed for Best Book Debut, Best Coming Of Age, and Best Book Of The Year. If you are a member of the group, please consider voting for it here and here and here.
Yet another Spectacularly Broken extra! My publisher, Loose Id, got some authors together to write short ficlets with characters from their books, using a Truth or Dare theme. So you get Lysander being drunk and overdramatic on New Year’s Eve, and Cai playing a game with him until he has to bring out the handcuffs again. You can find the ficlet here.
Reminder: Playing For The Other Team will be out January 12.
I wrote a little thing to celebrate the season: a 6,000 word short story set in the “Spectacularly Broken” universe. Lysander reflects upon past Christmas seasons and fellates a candy cane. Jarett has allergies, Cai spanks his boyfriend, and Finn is banned from decorating.
Without further ado, I present – Of Candy Canes and Fuzzy Handcuffs
Once I figure out a suitable cover, this will also be available for download on Smashwords, so you’ll be able to add it to your e-reader library if you like.
You may or may not recall that my mother, who is one of my beta readers, received an edited version of my first book, with most of the naughty bits taken out. You can read about it here. A while after the book came out, we Skyped, and she casually mentioned that she used my dad’s Kindle to download and read the published version as she wanted to know what the finished product was like. And then she mentioned even more casually how much she liked it.
I have a sneaking suspicion that this might be her way of telling me that she’s okay with the gay sex.
I’m very pleased to announce that Spectacularly Broken received an honorable mention in this year’s Rainbow Awards.
Warning for minor spoilers about Spectacularly Broken
A few people have asked questions or expressed concerns about Lexa, either in reviews or to me privately, and they have a point. I know more about her than I wrote, and the most apparent thing about her is her ostensible fragility. It was difficult to fit in much of Lexa’s background since she doesn’t talk for the majority of the book, and she is not the main character of Spectacularly Broken. Lysander likes Lexa, but he’s far too wrapped up in his own issues to spend much time finding out about hers. So here are a few facts on Lexa.
1. She isn’t shy. Lexa has issues with meeting new people and with verbal and physical aggression, but she is not, at her core, a shy person. Once she gets to know the rest of green group, she has no problem calling Cai an idiot or expressing her approval of Cai and Lysander’s blossoming relationship – only she doesn’t do it verbally. She is also her own advocate and has a lot of inner strength. If Finn hadn’t intervened in the incident with Damien, she would have been the first to report it.
2. She has had prior therapy. Oak Hill Manor is not the extent of Lexa’s therapy, it’s simply one of the steps. Like everyone else at the manor, she needed a therapist recommendation in order to participate in the program (another fact I didn’t manage to fit into the book, because Lysander doesn’t give a fig about these things), and she is there voluntarily, challenging herself to interact with her peers.
3. She is determined. Lexa wants to heal. She faces her demons with open eyes and continues to climb one hurdle after another on her path to functioning, balanced and healthy. She accepts the support that green group and Finn give her and tries her best to support them in return because she knows how valuable and helpful it is.
In the end, all I can say is that, as with everyone else in the book, I tried my best to make Lexa a three-dimensional character and to accurately represent the symptoms of her past abuse and resulting issues. It’s important to me not to slip into cliches, and I hope I succeeded.
Most authors I know occasionally have the same problem I do – sassy characters who just won’t take direction. Usually, they make for the most interesting protagonists because their ‘tude is memorable and entertaining. Lysander was definitely one such protagonist. When I was emailing a friend the other day and tried to describe what writing him was like, it went something like this…
“Okay, let’s start on this scene where you talk to Finn-”
WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF MONSTROSITY IS HE WEARING?
“Um, who cares? You’re supposed to be talking about-”
OH GOD IT’S TIE DYE. KILL ME NOW.
“No, stop being so dramatic. First you need to-”
I REFUSE TO LOOK AT TIE DYE UNLESS I’M REALLY REALLY HIGH. ALSO, HAVE YOU MET ME?
“…fine, I guess we’ll deal with the tie-dye crisis first then.”
“You are not setting your cousin on fire.”
BUT HE’S WEARING TIE DYE!
When I was still working on Spectacularly Broken (that would be the novel I’m publishing), I did a very, very brave and scary thing.
I let my mom read it.
The reasons for it were many. I needed a proofreader and she’s amazing at that. I needed someone who could point out the really huge, obvious flaws so I could make sure my beta reader wouldn’t be receiving a train wreck. I needed someone who would resolutely demand more character description and more chapters, and my mom is great at that as well. Most of all, I was excited about the story and wanted to share that with her.
She has only over the past few years come to the realization that writing isn’t just this flimsy, quirky thing I do for funsies, but that I’m actually good at it, and that it might even amount to something. Few things have ever been as gratifying as her telling me “While I was reading, I actually forgot that you wrote it – it reads just as well as any of the English novels I buy.”
The reasons against letting her read this novel? Just one.
There’s sex in it!
Sex! Gay sex! Explicit gay sex!
If you have or had the kind of relationship with a parent where you can write erotic stuff and be comfortable with them looking at it, more power to you. I don’t. I consider myself sex-positive and generally have no issues at all talking about it… but parents are special circumstances, and the regular rules don’t apply.
So I panicked and took out the sex.
No seriously. I went through the entire thing, rewrote some sentences, replaced certain words, faded to black close to the beginning of the action. I called it the “romantic version”, and while it wasn’t bad, exactly, it was lacking a certain punch and some character and plot development (yes, plot happens during sex), and I realized after deciding to submit the story that any publisher in the erotic romance genre would probably laugh at me. It was simply too tame. But not tame enough to fit into another marketable genre.
So I put the sex back in.
Actually, I didn’t just revert to the original version. I compared both versions side by side, and seeing them like that helped me realize what was essential, what was over the top, what worked, what didn’t. And I do believe the final version I ended up submitting is better than the original, so my kneejerk reaction actually worked out. But that doesn’t mitigate the fact that I freaked out a tiny bit at the thought of my mom reading the uncensored stuff.
– the uncensored stuff is what’s going to be published, of course. And many acquaintances, fellow moms, Facebook friends, distant relatives etc have already announced their intention to read it.
Um. Yeah. *gulp*
This is gonna take a tiny bit of getting used to. I knew it was coming, ever since I made the decision not to keep my pen name secret. Because damn it, I’m proud of this story. I should be proud of it, and the best way to do Spectacularly Broken justice is for me to own it one hundred percent, not just under my pen name, but in my personal life as well. It doesn’t deserve anything less. The time I’ve spent turning ideas into the start of a career doesn’t deserve anything less. It’s a bit tricky to get used to the idea (because explicit gay sex!) but I’m getting there.
So yeah. Sex. In my book. And there you have it, folks.