Catching up

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Yikes!

It’s been a long time since I wandered by here and wrote something. Time just seems to slip away somehow, and now here we are, in December.

So, what’s happened since—can it really be that long?—July?

Well, I’ll start with the story that came out on 16 July. People have bought copies! If you are one of them, thank you so much. Some people have put reviews up. Again, thank you to them, because it’s really great to get feedback, not only about what they liked but also what they didn’t.

In September I got to meet some other writers and readers at the inaugural UK gay romance book signing and reading in London. In spite of my trepidation about going, I’m glad I got over my nerves because it was a good day out. I’ve signed up to go to the UK GLBTQ fiction meet in September next year (as a reader) as well. It’ll be my first time doing something like that, so I’m sort of nervous even though it’s still ten months away.

Traditional granny square

A granny square!

I’ve been doing some crochet classes in the evenings. I really wanted to learn how to do granny squares. My own granny taught me, but I’d forgotten how. Now I have a scarf, some wristwarmers, a hat and part of a hot water bottle cover. Plus lots of ideas and enthusiasm. The classes were held at a local school and there were about 12-14 of us—with one lone man in the middle of us chattering women. Although it’s finished now, another short course was arranged for January and I’m looking forward to learning Tunisian crochet.

And, as I do each November, I took part in National Novel Writing Month, where you try to write 50,000 words in the month. I normally do quite well but this year was a bit of a washout. I made the mistake of coasting a bit in the first couple of weeks, because I’d booked a week off work for writing. Unfortunately, that meant that when a severe cold which turned into a chest infection hit me, I didn’t do any writing that week and very little the week after. It turns out that coughing 24 hours a day is extremely tiring, especially if you can only sleep sat up and for, at most, three hours. Oh well. I still have 13,000 words I didn’t have at the beginning of November and a solid basis for a story.

Oh, and PS—getting published wasn’t a fluke! Dreamspinner Press accepted a short story I submitted for their Advent Calendar set of stories, which is available now. You can buy the whole package or each story individually, whichever you prefer. Here’s mine

Book cover - The Journey BackHaving quit his job, Idris is trying to make it home to his partner of twelve years, Dan, in time for Christmas. Stuck on a train during a snowstorm, Idris has nothing to do but think back on how much he has missed by putting his career first. His job has been straining their partnership for years, and now Idris worries he’s damaged it beyond repair. He desperately wants to get back to the UK and salvage their relationship—if there’s even anything waiting for him when he gets home.

That’s all for now. Hopefully I’ll write a bit sooner next time.

Kristen
xx

The birthday present

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It’s here! It’s here! My novella Working It Out releases today on the Dreamspinner press site. I’m so excited.Working It Out Book Cover

It’s my birthday on Saturday. On the same day, I get to take over the Dreamspinner Press blog for a few hours to promote my book. How cool is that?

Just before Christmas, I got news that they were going to publish my story. On my birthday I get to celebrate that it has just released. I’m so thrilled. Please do come and join me. It will start at around 4.00pm UK time (that’s 11.00am in New York, 8.00am in Los Angeles and 1.00am on Sunday in Sydney) and finish around eight hours later.

If you comment on any of the posts on Saturday, you could even win a copy of the story and try me out for free. What have you got to lose?

And don’t forget—I’m going to be popping up on a few blogs around the internet. If you want to see what I’ve got to say, check out the Dreamspinner Press blog on Saturday and follow the links on my Blog Tours page.

Kristen
xx

I’m going on tour

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To celebrate the upcoming release of Working it Out on Wednesday, I’m going on tour. Hey, if bands can do it, why not me? Tour dates below, why not visit and see what I’m talking about?

And there’ll be a chance to win something, too, because I’m setting up a rafflecopter contest.
Working It Out Book Cover
Tour dates—Summer 2014

Working It Out

Celebrating six months with his boyfriend has Cas in a bit of a panic. Joe’s been saying “I love you” for a while, but Cas just can’t get the words past his lips. A week before Christmas, he finally says them when a nearly fatal accident almost takes Joe, and Cas faces the possibility of losing the best man he’s ever known. But whispered declarations are one thing. Through a long, tough recovery both men must work out that love is more than words.

You can pre-order it on the Dreamspinner Press website now.

Maybe I’ll see you on the tour.

Kristen
xx

Hearing Voices

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I’m at work. I should be focusing on the job, but a story’s coming. No, not that way! Although… when I think of it… it’s not that different sometimes. It’s certainly as irresistible. A recent day is fairly typical (although obviously some details will vary).

My first alarm goes off and the cat crawls on my neck for some pampering. After twenty minutes, just as he’s settling to sleep curled up against me, the second alarm goes off and I get up. I head for the bathroom, then downstairs and breakfast (feline first, of course). Back up to the bathroom and wash. Dress, check I’ve got everything, attach my namebadge and go back downstairs. Give the cat a small handful of treats to distract him from the opening door (works every time so far). Set off for work.

On the way, the voices start. Describing how they’re feeling, what they’re doing, where they are. Sharing their hopes and dreams. Not now, I’m going to work! Come back later. When I can write it down.

As soon as I get to work I start the computer system backup. While it’s running, I make a cup of tea and then add new clinics to our patient management system so the reception staff can book appointments for people eight weeks from now. No. When I said come back later, I didn’t mean in the middle of the morning! Go away you talkative people!

Next is checking the clinics for two and four weeks out against our timetable, in case there have been any changes. I mean it. Later. After work.

Right, let’s make a list of the incoming cheques for the manager to bank later this week and attach the cheques. Check the stationery and order more. Sort… the… post. Look. Will you lot just give over! I’m trying to work here.

I need to make sure we’ve got everybody’s size right before ordering the new uniform blouses. Oh, and go and change the toner in one of the printers downstairs. No, now is not a better time, just because I’m not looking at the computer screen.

Copy the applications for the job we’ve been advertising. No, not now either.

Finally, frank any outgoing mail that needs it and take it with me at the end of my working day. I’ll be walking past a postbox, so I might as well. Fine. But don’t expect me to remember this by the time I get home.

I walk through the door, get changed and feed the cat. Then I sit down and what do you know? Not a voice. Nary a blessed one. OK, you wanted to talk. So talk. Come on. Don’t be shy, now of all times. While waiting I write what I remember of their nagging throughout the day. Fine then. Don’t talk. But don’t go all verbal diarrhoea at me at work tomorrow. I gave you your chance.

Sometimes the reminder works. Sometimes it doesn’t. I can see them there. Sitting sulking at the back of my head. A bit like cats, really. Want your attention when they want it, not when you’re able to give it. And then act all aloof when you’re free. Oh well. It’ll give me a chance to get on with some of the other stuff I’ve got to do. Like the housework. How long is it since I did any of that again?

Kristen
xx

What am I to do?

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Hello again. I have a dilemma.

I have a short story I want to submit for a deadline at the beginning of August. It’s been most of the way written since the end of January. The sticking point is the final, or possibly penultimate, scene. It’s a sex scene, an explicit one. I’m struggling because it’s something I’m a little (OK, a lot) uncomfortable with. There’s no question it has to be included, however. It’s an essential part of how my characters reconnect after their relationship nearly founders. One of the things that was wrong was that they weren’t making love any more, just having (infrequent and perfunctory) sex. So they’re going to have to talk. Of course they are. They’d lost touch with each other along the way. But they also have to make love.

On. The. Page.

After four or five months allowing myself to be distracted with the new shiny that was the editing and production process for Working it Out, I really need to get back to it. I have to just buckle down and write it as a clunky laundry list and then start moulding that into something more like what I need. It’s just that I have this perfectionist streak that makes me want to write it right the first time. I do know that’s not possible. But. I can’t help thinking wistfully that I ought to be able to.

Book cover inset

Working It Out—available for pre-order now

Better get on with it.

See you later

Kristen
xx

It’s almost here!

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My novella’s available to pre-order on the Dreamspinner Press site. Oh my. I have a page there under my name. Working It Out Book Cover

Here’s a look at the cover. I really like it and it’s been hard not sharing it until now.

So what’s it about? Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite.

“Celebrating six months with his boyfriend has Cas in a bit of a panic. Joe’s been saying “I love you” for a while, but Cas just can’t get the words past his lips. A week before Christmas, he finally says them when a nearly fatal accident almost takes Joe, and Cas faces the possibility of losing the best man he’s ever known. But whispered declarations are one thing. Through a long, tough recovery both men must work out that love is more than words.”

Excuse me a moment while I continue bouncing excitedly.

Kristen xx

It’s all coming together

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Oh my. It feels like a while since I last wrote, but it’s only been a couple of weeks. Things are moving on apace, getting really close. It’s June already and my story’s due out next month!

I’ve done my author profile, the cover is finalised, there’s a kickass blurb (I can say that because I didn’t write it) and I even have a tentative publication date.

I got the galley proofs from the publisher, Dreamspinner Press, at the weekend and it seems like a good time to tell you a little bit more about the book.

It’s a novella—for those that don’t know, that’s a story which is too long to be a short story but too short to be a novel. This one will be about 70-75 pages long and is called Working It Out. It’s a romance—I guess you know that already if you’ve looked at the top of the screen 😉 —and is the story of how twenty-six-year-old Cas works out how you know if you’re in love with someone.

I’m getting so excited and can barely wait to share the blurb and cover with you. As soon as it’s available for pre-order, you can bet I’ll be posting the details.

I’ll also be kermit-flailing like mad.

And probably squeeeing.

I’ve got used to people staring at me, so I shan’t even wait until I’m home and alone before doing that.

I shall be posting on the Dreamspinner Press blog the week it comes out and am hoping to do a little blog tour to get the word out there about my story. I’d better get started with all that non-fiction writing I need to do, hadn’t I?

See you later

Kristen
xx

WordPress wants me to what?

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I was a bit confused a short while ago. I got an email saying that there were comments waiting for moderation. “Huh?” I thought. “I thought I’d set that so it didn’t do that.”

So I’ve gone through the settings again. Turns out, you can’t exactly set it to approve comments automatically. There are two options. One is to require all comments to be moderated before they appear. The other is to hold onto any comments submitted by people without a previously approved comment. I guess it’s part of the spam prevention they have. I appreciate the care for my blog’s security, but it could have meant a couple of people commenting and wondering why their comment still wasn’t showing up several hours later. They might have got a bit grumpy about that.

Luckily I get email on my phone and was on my way home from work when the notification arrived. So everything’s hunky-dory again. 🙂

Kristen
x

Another little step

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Well, my story’s another step closer to being released into the wild. I’ve had comments from a third editor and have just sent back my responses. This time there were a lot fewer comments, but they were harder to deal with. So it still took me the whole week to get through them. I even had to go do some research (aka asking a few people who might know). This is because the editor raised a very good question.

One of my lead characters has a broken hip, and I have him being put through a lot of exercises to keep everything mobile and help him heal quicker. The editor questioned this. Shouldn’t broken bones be kept still? Wouldn’t the exercises be after they’d healed, to get things moving again? I’m old enough that I had a moment of “Oh laws! I’ve a horrible feeling she’s right”. The publisher has set up a discussion group for its authors to chat, share information and news, and to seek advice and help. Off I went to the group with my question.

Phew! What a relief. Things have changed a lot since I was young. Mostly, the hip will be stabilised surgically, and the poor person with the broken bone will be hoicked up onto their feet almost immediately. The health professionals definitely want you to keep the joint moving because joints become immobile very quickly. One person even sent me a link to this booklet by Baylor University Medical Centre in Dallas. The exercises it depicts are just what I thought my character would be doing. I don’t have to rewrite the whole darn story.

I’m so pleased. But I’m also glad the editor asked. If I’d been wrong, potential readers would have been howling in frustrated disbelief.

(Oh, and we’ve finalised the cover design. It’s feeling like a real book! Like real writers make!)

See you round
Kristen xx

Editing’s Fun—Who Knew?

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The day after I posted the last update, the second lot of editor’s comments on my novella arrived. I thought there’d be fewer than in the first round. (Cue laughter.) Either I have no idea how to punctuate, or US punctuation is very, very different from UK punctuation. I’m standing by the latter idea, as it’s better for my self esteem.

There’s also the little matter of me writing British English, and the story having to be converted to American spellings and style guides. The publisher’s American, you see. Naturally, they adhere to American standards. Can’t argue with that. But it means they’ve pointed out every single departure from those standards. I’m grateful, but that’s a lot of changes to make.

There’s this amazing thing, an absolutely wonderful thing I’ve found during the editing so far. As I’ve looked at and addressed the comments—the places where the editors have found holes, where they’ve questioned word choices, spotted repetition, noticed weak words and structures—I’ve seen the story improve immeasurably in front of my eyes.

It’s as if I was a sculptor who turned up with a hunk of rock, from which I’d chipped off bits to reveal a rough approximation of a human shape. The editors have pointed out where I need to cut a little more, where I need to shape, and helped me polish and smooth it until an actual sculpture appears. I’m sitting and looking at it, after only two rounds of editing, and going, “Wow!” at my screen.

There’s likely to be at least one more set of comments, from a third editor. I wonder what they’ll see, where else I can improve the way the story’s told. I almost can’t wait. It may be incredibly hard work, but it’s so worthwhile.

See you later
Kristen xx