ROMANCE

Guest Post: A FREE E-book and Kickstarter Project by Cecilia Tan…LGBTQ Story, "Daron’s Guitar Chronicles"

(Update to Post: Free on the BN Nookstore also. Here’s that link)

When Cecilia Tan asked if I’d let her do a guest post, I was more than interested in not only posting it but reading it. Though I don’t know much about Kickstarter, I am fascinated with the basic theory behind it, and I am interested in learning more. I’ve worked with Cecilia before on one…maybe two…anthologies for Ravenous Romance and I’ve always been very pleased with the end results.

As a gay man, I also find the story she writes about below interesting. You’ll see what I mean when you begin reading it. I like it so much I’ll probably do a follow up post with my own comments in the next few weeks after I read it myself.

And, the Kickstarter project is for a paperback, so people can read a physical book in their hands. But the e-book can be downloaded for *free* with the links I’ve provided in the body of the guest post.

DARON’S GUITAR CHRONICLES by Cecilia Tan:

Romance is a funny business. On the one hand, we read to escape. But escape can also be had in fantasy, science fiction, and other genres. In romance we escape into a world where true love wins. What keeps us coming back again and again, though, is the idea that true love isn’t just a fantasy, but something that could be real.

I’ve written my share of true love stories now, some of them with fantasy elements like magic or telepathy, but I find it more challenging in some ways to write believable true love in the “real world.” In fantasy, you can have everything from prophecies to magic spells telling your character (and the reader) who their soul mate is. But in contemporary settings, it’s not so simple.

One of my long-term projects is a web serial called Daron’s Guitar Chronicles. Daron is a young, gay guitar player in the mid-1980s struggling both with his sexuality and with the search for fame. There are certainly elements of escape: the setting is the world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. But I try to immerse the reader in that world with true details.

Less escapist, but equally important, are the elements about coming out in the 1980s. It was the era of “Silence=Death,” when AIDS was in the news and on everyone’s minds, when Rock Hudson was outed upon his death and gay rights activists were calling for more celebrities to come out of the closet. It was a rocky time, before there were any out celebrities on TV, no Ellen, no Rosie, no Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, no Will & Grace. Daron is trying to make it without role models, in a culture that fears gay sex.

For me, these elements of struggle are important, though. When Daron finds love or finds happiness, even momentary happiness along the way, you really feel like he’s earned it.

And that’s the “magic” of writing something in the real world. There are no magical signs that point to true love in Daron’s world, but when he reaches that place in the story where he and his true love are united? You’ll know. He’ll know. Everyone will know, because he will have fought long and hard to get there. And the difficult, uphill journey will have all been worth it.

If you’re interested to read Daron’s story, the ongoing web serial is completely free to read online. Start with chapter one here, and book one of the ebook series is also free to download right now in the Kindle store, here , or from Smashwords, here. If you prefer a paper book you can hold in your hands, we’re running a Kickstarter campaign now through May 22 to raise the funds to produce a paperback. Please check it out at this link.

Here’s a link to a video.

Useful links:
Daron’s Guitar Chronicles free web site.
Daron’s Facebook Page.Daron’s

Twitter account: @daron_moondog

Cecilia Tan’s blog
Cecilia’s Facebook pageCecilia’s

Twitter account: @ceciliatan

Cecilia Tan’s Bio:

Cecilia Tan is “simply one of the most important writers, editors, and innovators in contemporary American erotic literature,” according to Susie Bright. In 1992 Tan founded Circlet Press, a category-busting independent press that mixes science fiction/fantasy with erotica, and which added an erotic romance line, Clasp Editions, in 2011. Tan is the author of many books, including the romances Mind Games, The Hot Streak, and the Magic University series. Her short stories have appeared in Ms. Magazine, Nerve, Best American Erotica, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and tons of other places. She was inducted into the Saints & Sinners Hall of Fame for GLBT writers in 2010 and won the inaugural Rose & Bay Awards for crowdfunded fiction in 2010 for Daron’s Guitar Chronicles. She lives in the Boston area with her lifelong partner corwin and three cats.

4th of July and Apple Pie…

In honor of the 4th of July, here’s an excerpt from a new book I’m working on right now. It’s PG rated and slightly paranormal. But other than that, it’s as American as you get.

On Thursday morning, Sienna woke early and baked more apple pies in Grace’s kitchen. She normally only baked her pies once or twice a month, but her grandmother had called on Tuesday and said that she’d given most of the last apple pie to her friends at the nursing home and she was dying for another. And Sienna knew that Jaydin needed one of her pies. He’d been through a lot of stress in only a few days, and the pie, she knew, would ease his nerves and help him sleep at night. She also wanted to bake one for Avenir. He hadn’t had one of her pies yet, and she thought it would be a nice gesture.
This time she added a few extra details to the pies, too. For some reason, whenever she added these details, the healing powers of the pies intensified. She cut the apples smaller and added a hint of lemon peel. Instead of flower as a thickener, she used a special brand of tapioca that she had to go all the way to Bangor to buy. They sold it at a small gourmet shop, where they also sold other herbs and remedies for healing. The apples had to come from an orchard that was located twenty miles from town, and she had to sort through them to be sure they were all the exact same size. But the two special ingredients that made these pies have stronger healing powers than her regular pies, she thought, were the butter and pastry.
The butter for the pastry and the pie filling had to be made by hand. Not with an electric blender or a food processor. She had to stir and whip fresh cream herself, thinking positive, healing thoughts with each turn of the wire whisk. And she had to add a pinch of sea salt and fold it in gently. Table salt wouldn’t do. There was something about the sea salt that created healing energy.
When the butter was whipped, she chilled it for an hour. And when it was cold, she used her fingers to mix the flour and cold butter together until the mixture formed bit-sized rounds that resembled English peas. Then she stirred in ice cold water until the dough formed. She did this all by hand, and barely worked the dough. The more you worked it, the tougher it became. And the tougher it became the less healing powers it had.
Then she filled each pie shell with a huge mound of sweet, apple filling and topped the mounds with globs of fresh butter, and after that, she went to work on the top layer of crust. The way the pie looked had nothing to do with the healing powers it contained. But she figured that as long as she’d worked so hard on the ingredients, the outside should look fantastic, too. Sometimes she crimped the edges with her fingers, and sometimes she pressed them together with a three-pronged fork.
But on that Thursday, she decided to make the edges of the pies look like the jagged, pointy cliffs of the Maine coastline. So she cut the edges, with a scissor, into perfect points that resembled arrowheads and folded every other one back. Then she brushed the pies with iced cold cream, secured the folded points to make sure they wouldn’t rise, and put them into the oven to bake. She never used an egg wash; it made the pies look store bought and she wanted them to look homemade and simple.

My candle burns at both ends…

In one of my favorite works by Edna St. Vincent Millay, there’s a classic quote that reads:

“My candle burns at both endsIt will not last the night;But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -It gives a lovely light.”

And this quote is a lot like the journey I’ve experienced so far with ravenousromance.com. Until recently, I always worked in traditional publishing and journalism. I wrote erotic romances and non-erotic romances for many editors and publishers. I wrote short stories and pieces for magazines and other publications. Over the course of fifteen years, since I graduated from college with a BA in English Lit, I literally lost track of the list of books and publications I was in. It was always about supplying the editor with what he or she needed. But more than that, creating something that the reader would enjoy. I’ll get into more of how I did this in future posts (there are stories about where I worked as an assistant editor and how I wrote that might surprise people), because when you’re starting out as a writer money isn’t something that comes easily.

Right now, in this first post, I’d rather discuss the whirwind of ravenousromance.com. When I was first approached about it, I wasn’t sure I could do it. Even though I’d always been in at least ten books a year, I’d always had time to think and prepare and contemplate. Traditional print publishing moves along at a slow, even pace: you submit a short story for a romance anthology in March and it usually takes a year, if not more, for the book to be released. (Magazines work a little faster, but if you submit something for a Christmas issue it’s usually done in late summer.) But I was used to things being done the old way; I knew the drill and had my comfort zones.
And then came ravenousromance.com. I’d done a few things for other e-publishers by then. One, because I think e-publishing is the future in all genres. And two, because I was curious about it. And to be honest, even though I’d heard a few negative things from other writers, I soon found that e-publishing in general was a wonderful, professional place to work. Every aspect was positive, from editorial to cover design to final product. So when ravenous approached me with ideas and concepts for a book, I basically jumped into it without thinking twice. I’d heard good things about the owners, and I really believed in what they were trying to accomplish. This all started late last spring, which is typically a dead time in traditional publishing. But that summer was the most exciting and intense I can ever remember as a writer. We started by brainstorming about the book, AN OFFICER AND HIS GENTLEMAN, then I wrote a detailed outline and we brainstormed again through phone calls and e-mails. I was shocked at how much I liked and appreciated the comments from the editors; we clicked on all levels and when they suggested changes, I liked the suggestions. When I came back with changes of my own, they liked my suggestions. It was almost too good to be true.

In the next post I’ll get into the process of writing AN OFFICER AND HIS GENTLEMAN. It wasn’t always easy, and I burned the candle at both ends because I had other publishing obligations that summer, but it turned out to be a great deal of intense fun in the end. My goal, always, has been to reach readers who like to escape to places they normally wouldn’t go. But I also like to add quirks you don’t normally see in erotic romance. A huge part of that goal is to please the reader, entertain the reader and hope and pray they enjoy what I’ve written. Without the wonderful readers, there would be no point to writing.