book descriptions

Small Town Romance Writer: The 113,000 Word Version

Small Town Romance Writer: The 113,000 Word Version

This is one of those posts I do every now and then when I’m getting ready to submit a book to the publisher. It helps me see what the book description looks like in print, it helps me check out the first few pages, and readers tell me they like reading these things.

This particular book is the final novel in the eight book series I’ve been working on for the last year for Ravenous Romance. And this time, with this final book, for some reason I ran way over the contracted word count and it wound up being 113,000 words. Before I started editing it, it was almost 150,000 words. It could have stood alone at 150,000 words, but I think it works better when it’s a little tighter. I think part of the reason the book ran this long is because it covers a time period of over twenty years, from l990 – 2012. I don’t usually do that, because I prefer to cover shorter time periods. However, this time the story seemed to take over and I didn’t have much of a choice.

Here’s the book description, in raw form. Below that is an excerpt from a part of the book where Ethan wants Travis to read his new novel…also unedited, in raw form, and set in the year 2000.

In this 113,000 word gay romance, when bad boy male stripper Ethan and quiet academic Travis first meet at the storied Iowa Writers’ Workshop in l990 neither one of them know this unusual relationship will consume the next twenty years of their lives…even as their lives change and they meet new people, and they each take different paths as career writers.

Ten years later, Travis is a well-respected author in the LGBT community who is up for a prestigious literary award and Ethan is still a struggling gay erotic romance author writing short stories for small presses that garner him a less than fifty dollar flat fees. But all this is about to change when Ethan soon becomes famous for a gay romance that Travis thinks is quite possibly the worst book ever written.

As Ethan’s mainstream writing career progresses and he becomes known as the Small Town Billionaire Author, Travis’s career moves forward in more subtle, literary ways. Although there are times when Travis is jealous of Ethan’s fame and fortune, he’s found the young man he thinks is the love of his life and nothing else matters. In fact, his life seems perfect…until tragedy strikes and leaves him with nowhere to turn but to Ethan.

Ten years after that, in 2011, both Ethan and Travis have evolved in many ways as men and authors. They also find themselves in situations they hadn’t predicted, and the tables have turned on them. Their long-lasting, unusual relationship is challenged once again when Ethan is up for the same award Travis won twenty years earlier, and this time it’s either going to make them or break them.    

Excerpt:
Ethan stood up and walked to a briefcase he’d left near the back door. He picked it up, carried it to the island, and set it down next to a large porcelain rooster that had the most ridiculous expression he’d ever seen. He hated cute things; he despised the way this entire house was decorated. As Ethan unzipped the case, Travis walked over to see what he was doing.
            Ethan pulled a thick stack of white papers out of the briefcase and set it on the counter. The stack wasn’t neatly piled and most of the pages were dog-eared. He pushed it toward Travis and said, “I’d like you to read this and tell me what you think.”
            Travis gulped and glanced down at the papers. “What is it?”

            “It’s a novel I wrote,” Ethan said. Although his short stories had been getting published in anthologies and magazine for years, he’d never actually written a full length novel. This was his first attempt and what Travis thought of it meant more to him than anything. “I’d like you to read it and tell me what you think.” He’d never asked Travis to read anything like this before. He’d never asked anyone to read his work before. The first people who read his short manuscripts were usually professional editors. He didn’t believe in feedback from non-professionals.
            Travis glanced at the title and read it aloud: “To Badly Feel the Darkness of Emotion.”
            “It is catchy,” Travis said. “You never mentioned you were writing a full length novel. How long did it take?”
            “About a month,” Ethan said. “It’s about 150,000 words. I would have finished it sooner, but we had a lot of events with Lance’s job. For a while it seemed as if there was a different party every night. Entertaining clients is a huge part of what Lance does. I’m so excited about this. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.”
            Travis continued to stare at the first page. “I see,” he said.
            “Is that all you’re going to say?” He’d expected at least a little excitement from Travis.
            “I’m not sure whatto say right now,” Travis said. “You hand me a manuscript for a full length 150,000 novel you wrote in a month and the title isn’t even grammatically correct.” He lifted his hands and wiggled his fingers. “You don’t feel badly. You feel bad on an emotional level, not badly. You feel badly with your fingers.”
            “I know that,” Ethan said. “I believe in common usage, and everyone says they feel badly. I write the way real people speak, and it’s the story that matters, not the grammar.” He’d always been a believer in common usage as opposed to proper grammar, and from what he’d been reading there were many who were beginning to speak out about this, even on academic levels. He’d recently read an article in a university review that talked about ending sentences with prepositions. “I want you to read it and tell me what you think about the story. It’s an erotic romance with light BDSM where two guys fall in love. It’s really an emotional love story this time, filled with schmaltz. I got tired of writing about just sex.”
            “I see,” Travis said, as if they were the only two words he knew. He turned the title page over and read aloud from the first page: “Like a chiseled and detailed statue, his elegantly muscle toned body crept up the elderly semi-circular staircase lovingly. It’s treads squeaked laboriously with each step he took, as he made his way slowly and carefully to Adam’s bed. His feet stopped abruptly at the top of the stairs when he saw Adam longingly and lovingly glancing in his direction. He smiled widely and muttered darkly with slight stutter, ‘I’m here. I’m here, my love.’”
            When Travis paused, Ethan leaned forward. “What do you think? Isn’t that a great first line?”

            “Well,” Travis said. “I’m not sure what to say.”
            “You don’t like it,” Ethan said. He knew that look on Travis’s face. He hadn’t seen it since the last time Travis drank too much and heaved his dinner.
            “This is an awkward position, Ethan,” Travis said. “I’m not sure what you want me to say. You show me a novel you claim only took one month to write. One fucking month. It took me years to write my novel. Then I read the first line and I see you begin the book with a simile, you misspell its, you use said bookisms for dialogue tags, and there seems to have been a sale on adverbs the day you wrote it.” Travis pointed to the next line and read it aloud: “’You’re here,’” Adam mumbled alluringly.” He closed his eyes for a moment and sighed.
            “I wanted the first few pages to be filled with emotion,” Ethan said. He wasn’t sure about the other issues Travis had mentioned, but he didn’t want Travis to know that. Travis could be so structured and picky sometimes, not to mention condescending.
            “Mumbled alluringly?” Travis said. He sent him a frown and shook his head. “That’s not good, Ethan. You need to work on it a little more. And maybe hire a good editor.”
            Ethan sat back and sighed. Why did Travis always have to be so condescending? “All I wanted you to do was read it and tell me what you think. But if that’s too much trouble, don’t bother. I’m never going to write literary books like you. I know and I’m okay with that. But I know I can write sexy books with a lot of romance and a killer story.”
            Travis rubbed his jaw and took a quick breath. “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll take the book with me and read it from cover to cover. I’ll overlook all the grammatical issues and I’ll let you know what I think of the story; just the story. I’ll be completely objective in that respect. But you have to promise you’ll take my criticism as objectively. In other words, you can’t get mad at me.”
            “It’s a deal,” Ethan said. “All I want you to do is read it and tell me what you think.”
            Travis glanced down at the page and saw the byline. “Who the hell is G. X. Cloud?”
            Ethan sat up higher and squared his back. “That’s my pen name for this. Everyone’s using them nowadays, especially in e-publishing. And since this is a first novel, I wanted something different than I’ve used before.”
            E-publishing?” Travis asked, with a sarcastic emphasis on the e.
            Ethan nodded. “Electronic publishing,” he said. “It’s where people read electronic books instead of print books. I’ve been reading a lot about it lately on the Internet. I’ve seen articles that claim everyone will be reading e-books on an e-reading device of some kind by the year 2010. And a lot of writers are using pen names with two initials.”
            Travis rolled his eyes. “Well this is the year 2000, and I haven’t seen any signs of thathappening in publishing, so don’t hold your breath, G.X.”
            When it came to technology, Travis had never been open to the concept of change. Ethan had been spending a lot of time on the Internet and he’d seen the changes already happening in the publishing industry. Of course most of the people associated with traditional publishing like Travis either laughed at, or scorned, anything that resembled the concept of electronic books. But Ethan didn’t agree, and he had a feeling the world would change in the next decade and he wanted to be part of that change.
            “You can take this hard copy manuscript,” Ethan said. “I have an electronic back up on file. I back up all my work now with digital copies.” He was by no means a tech genius, but he wanted to use technical words to impress Travis. He knew Travis wrote his literary books on the same old typewriter he’d used at The Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and he found this amusing and quaint. Travis didn’t even have an e-mail address yet, and most people Ethan knew did. About a year earlier, Ethan had been warned by one of the publishers with whom he worked if he didn’t get a computer and learn how to submit his short erotic stories as Word Documents, he would soon become obsolete and no one would be willing to read his hard copy manuscripts. At first Ethan ignored the advice, but then it actually happened. One of his small publishers wanted to buy a short erotic gay story for an anthology, but he told Ethan it had to be submitted electronically. On that same day, Ethan bought a computer and asked Lance to show him the basics. Lance had already been using computers for architectural design and he knew the basics.
            Travis made a face. “I’ll stick with my old typewriter for now, thank you. But as long as you have a copy, I’ll take the manuscript with me and I’ll read it.”
            Ethan jumped off his stool and hugged him. “Thanks,” he said. “I know I’m never going to be as good as you, but not everyone can write literary novels that win big book awards. Some of us just want to entertain people and have a little fun.” Although he wanted that to sound like a compliment, he also wanted to let Travis know he wasn’t a complete idiot just because he didn’t get his graduate degree in Iowa. The competition between them often equaled the love between them, which made moments like this more intense. They always seemed to be on the verge of a kiss or a slap in the face.
            And Travis always made sure he went insult for insult. He tapped Ethan’s messy manuscript and said, “And I’m sure I’ll have more than a little fun reading this.”
 
  

Self-Publish Tech Issue; Something for St. Jude; Weiner’s Snarky Director

Self-Publish Tech Issue; Something for St. Jude

The following tech issue that recently happened to me might not apply to new authors who are self-publishing, however, I think it’s important to mention for published authors who might be self-publishing back listed books. And, for those self-publishing more than one book at a time. There are some things you just can’t portend no matter how hard you try. And what happened to me late last night with Something for St. Jude is a good example of this. You may have heard me screaming at Amazon.

I’ve posted about how we’ve been re-releasing all my back listed stories and books from now defunct small e-press, Loveyoudivine.com. So it’s not really self-publishing in the sense that these books have already been through the publishing process from developmental editing, to covers, to copy editing. And in most cases, these stories have even been through more than that because many were trad published in anthologies that were released years ago by respected LGBT publishers like Cleis Press. They’ve gone through more than a few edits by excellent professional editors. I even left the original book covers, which I wanted to change, so readers would not get confused. So I thought I had nothing about which to worry.

Think again. Even though I’ve always been completely open and honest about all my product information…to the point of being a pain in the ass with blog posts like this, late last night I went to Amazon to check out Something for St. Jude and I noticed a review (a good review) that read, “False Advertising.” And since I don’t even advertise my books anywhere…or much of anything I write…I read the review a few times, bought the book myself, and figured out the issue.

Evidently, there was a tech issue during the upload where several short stories were added to the short e-book, Something for St. Jude. In other words, instead of getting the one short story for .99 as it had been described in the book blurb, the reader wound up getting Something for St. Jude, plus a few additional short stories for free. Of course when I get something for free by mistake, I say thank you and smile. But two readers were so upset they’d received all these short stories for free when they purchased the .99 e-book they left reviews about it. And I can’t thank them enough for leaving these reviews. This is truly the kind of feedback the world needs to see. If it hadn’t been for these reviewers mentioning this tech issue, I would never have known all these short e-books were being given away for free with a .99 short story.

Don’t get me wrong. I honestly don’t mind that people read the extra books for free and I hope that a few people enjoyed them. I’ve never been one to complain about these things, and my publishers often get frustrated with me because of this. But that’s because I do believe that when issues like this happen and someone benefits from it, good for them. To me it’s like going into the store, finding a mismarked item, and making the store honor the mistake. In fact, with all the e-book pirates out there pilfering my books, I’m kind of glad this mistake happened so readers who do pay and do things the honest way got a little surprise when they purchased SfSJ for .99 and found more than they’d expected. Good for them!

But, in the same respect, I felt awful about those poor readers who had received free e-books and didn’t want them. You can read the reviews here. I’ve left comments apologizing and thanking them for pointing this problem out to me. I still can’t thank them enough. And the problem has been fixed now, thanks to these dedicated Amazon reviewers, and Something for St. Jude is now one short story instead of five short stories for .99. As I said, had it not been for them I never would have known. And shame on me for not triple checking that. But as I said, there are some things you can’t predict no matter how hard you try. And when it comes to re-releasing back listed book issues, this might be one of them other authors should pay attention to. I’m still not completely certain how this happened. I checked all of the other books that were released around the same time and they seem to be fine.

I’d also like to add that if things like this ever come up and you need to contact me, my e-mail is public and I welcome all comments in private. I will respect your privacy and discretion is extremely important to me. rfieldj@aol.com

Weiner’s Snarky Director

It’s been established that Anthony Weiner is naughty. It’s been established he has a strong story. It’s been well established that other politicians can lie about anything and get away with it, from their book bio to their college records, but don’t do anything sexual in your personal life or your done.

And now it seems Weiner’s communications directer went batshit crazy about an article in NY Daily News where one of Weiner’s nasty little interns allegedly wrote a tell-all. According to this article, the intern claims Weiner had problems getting people to work on his staff. The only reason people were on Weiner’s staff were there to get closer to his wife and Hillary Clinton (Weiner’s wife works for Hillary). Basically, it sounds like the intern bashed all of them in a breach of confidence, including the communications director. And the communications directer, Barbara Morgan, went after the mouthy little intern without holding anything back. And it was very entertaining.

“It’s all bullshit,” Morgan tells TPM. “I mean, it’s such bullsh*t. She could f**king — f**king tw*t.” Oh.

Morgan goes on to say that Nuzzi is a “slutbag” and says “she sucked.” Also: “You know what? F**k you, you little c*nt. I’m not joking, I am going to sue her.”

In a statement this morning that was sent to reporters and available on The Washington Post, Morgan says, “In a moment of frustration, I used inappropriate language in what I thought was an off-the-record conversation. It was wrong and I am very sorry, which is what I said tonight when I called and emailed Olivia to apologize.”

My fifty cents: Sometimes you just have to get it all off your chest and let them have it.

A Young Widow’s Promise: Book Description

I just finished the book description for the new civil war romance, A YOUNG WIDOW’S PROMISE.

This is raw; the unedited version. But I wanted to see how it looked in print before we made any changes.

Felecia Roundtree is thirty-seven years old, she’s already lost her husband in battle, and prays each morning her two young sons live to see another day. With her own two hands, she’s turned the front of her property at remote Locust Point, NJ, into a burial ground for unknown Confederate prisoners of war, hoping someone will return a kind gesture to her own loved ones. Then one morning in August, just after she has a vision of her dead husband, three Confederate prisoners of war turn up at her doorstep begging for mercy. One is near death; the other two aren’t much better. Though she’s reluctant at first to help the enemy, she offers them food and shelter, and then eventually begins the romance of her lifetime with a young Confederate named Calvin. When she learns a deep dark secret about the other two Confederates, she’s not sure what to think. Felecia has no idea she’s even falling in love. Nor does she realize she’s preserving an important part of American History. But she’s true to her promise every step of the way.

The Bachelor: Book Description



Here’s a quick book description of The Bachelor, which was recently released.

I’ll post an unpublished excerpt later this week. And if anyone wants to read a published excerpt check out this link. (I’m a big fan of the way ARe does product details.) It’s all right here. Or, the publisher’s link, here.

Jim Johnston has been trying to break into show business for seven years, and now he has a chance to audition for a new reality show called The Gay Bachelor. But he missed the Hollywood auditions, so he has to travel back home to the deep rural country of Southern New Jersey and audition in Philadelphia.

Jim arrives at his parents’ old brick plantation style house for the first time since he graduated high school. When he sees how much they’ve aged since he’s been gone, it tugs at his heart and he is determined to make things right again so it doesn’t take another seven years for him to return.

But this doesn’t stop Jim from having a quick affair with his mother’s maid’s strapping nephew while his mother and father are at church. And it doesn’t stop him from falling hopelessly in love with one of the producers of the new reality show, The Gay Bachelor, when he auditions in Philadelphia.

With all the obstacles Jim faces before the audition, he discovers a few things about himself he didn’t know. In spite of the disappointments…and a few awkward moments with a chocolate cupcake…he’s determined to concentrate more on love than on casual sex. Even though he’s not sure how it’s all going to work out in the end, he’s ready to take his chances for the sake of love.

If You Have Any Questions about My Books…Thanks to "Elaine"

One of the things I personally hate most about searching through an author’s web site or blog is feeling as if I’m being duped. Like when an author mentions that he or she has thousands of publishing credits without listing them clearly, or when I get ambiguous book descriptions that contain nothing more than wordy blurbs that tell me the book is “fascinating,” “intriguing,” and “heart wrenching.” This sort of thing might have worked in the past for authors, because there was no way to communicate with them and we were forced to take chances on buying their books. But things have changed and I think authors should be available to answer questions about their books.

After a reader contacted me recently about one of my books, I thought I’d post something to let readers know that if they don’t feel they are getting good descriptions of my books, please e-mail me and I’ll give you more info about the book. One reader, “Elaine,” wanted to know how one book ended. She had very specific reasons for this, and I was only too happy to oblige. This way she didn’t have to buy a book that would disappoint her, and I didn’t have to feel guilty about someone purchasing a book and being disappointed with the ending.

And if nothing else, whether you like my books or you don’t, I work hard with my editors and publishers to make sure each book is described well and that people know what they are buying. And to take it one step further, please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.

There’s a book coming out in the next few weeks titled, STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM AT THE PLAZA. I’ll post more about it in the future, but this one is strictly romance. It’s not erotic, there’s very little sex, and it’s more about relationships and falling in love on a first date. Another one coming out is ALL ABOUT YVES. This one is less erotic than my other books, too, and it focuses more on relationships and love than sex.