Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year Gratitude

Happy New Year Gratitude



I wish I could say I hate to see 2014 end, but 2014 was not an easy year. I don't like to go into detail about personal things on the blog or on social media, but last year Tony and I had two family members diagnosed with stage four cancer, we spent a good part of the year in places like Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and there were some very intense moments I'd rather not live through again. Some of that is continuing and will always be there. It just seemed as though 2014 started out with the kind of things no one ever wants to deal with. Thanks to a private support group on Facebook, Whipple Surgery Survivor Group, I learned there are a lot of us out there dealing with similar situations.

In the same respect, it wasn't a totally bad year. I think it has to do with priorities...because some things, like cancer, just trump everything else and we tend to diminish the other things as they happen along the way. Last January Tony and I were legally married by Vermont Supreme Court Justice, Beth Robinson, in Montgomeryville, VT. You can read about that here, where I've posted photos. To add to the excitement of getting married in Vermont, we became part of a Hollywood documentary titled, The State of Marriage, that will be released sometime in the future. The producer, Jeff Kaufman, was wonderful, and so was the entire crew. But to be honest the actual marriage ceremony trumped everything else so much I didn't even realize there were cameras in the room. If you're thinking about getting married and doing it a little differently, I highly suggest going up to Montgomeryville. It was very simple, not too much red tape, and the little town is fantastic. Some of the best skiing on the east coast is up there.

Even though the wedding was monumental, in spite of the fact that we've been together for 23 years, the ride home was a little disappointing. We drove through several states where we were still legally married, only to return to Bucks County, PA, which is right across the border of New Jersey (we live a mile from NJ where marriage was legal), where we still weren't considered legally married on a state or federal level. Thankfully, and I don't use that word lightly, that all changed as 2014 moved forward thanks to Judge John E. Jones III for ruling that the ban against gay marriage in PA was unconstitutional. As I look back on these posts to which I'm linking it all seems so foreign now, as if there never had been a marriage ban in the first place. And look around: the world didn't end, the rapture didn't happen, and everyone is living their lives the same way they did before.  And not one single Christian was sacrificed so a gay couple could get married.

As for work, I had a great year and accomplished many projects and met all deadlines in spite of the family health issues. Not a day passed without a new blog post. There were times during the summer when I worked well into the middle of the night on books that I had to deliver to publishers, but I finished them and learned that I can write under stress as well as when everything is smooth and calm. In fact, I think I prefer working under a certain amount of pressure.

Aside from all this, the goal for me has always been to move forward as a writer and try to remain relevant in an industry that is constantly changing. Five or six years ago e-publishers were all the rage. Not so much anymore. Self-publishing has popped a good deal of that bubble and authors are going indie faster than I can post this to the blog. I'll always write gay erotica, but not everything I write in the future will be gay erotica from this point forward. One of the main reasons why I've always supported straight women writing gay fiction is that I want the opportunity to write in other genres, too. I have a few surprises in store for 2015 with books I've revised and changed almost completely. They were books I'd written for a publisher a while back and I had all the rights reverted back to me late in 2014. I'll post about them in the upcoming year.

Although it wasn't a perfect year, 2014 was definitely a busy year. That's the main reason why I slacked off on writing book reviews here on the blog. There just wasn't enough time left at the end of the very short days. I haven't been to goodreads in months, and I recently noticed reviews for "Chase of a Dream" in the abridged form on Amazon that left me a little speechless. That was the book I'd self-censored to remove the detailed sex scenes. I toned it down for readers who prefer less sex in romance novels and I think some were happy with that...at least from the reviews generated on Amazon most seem to be. I'd like to say I'm going to review more books in 2015, but I can't promise that. There are still so many posts to write with new, fresh LGBT content it's hard to prioritize, unless I get someone here to review for me.

Speaking of reviews, I have a new book coming out in 2015 that's a sequel to "Fangsters." And it was one review in particular that made me write the second book a little differently than the first. In the first book I wrote several scenes that contained rough sex between the vampires. I didn't consider this by any means BDSM, or part of the BDSM lifestyle, but one reviewer (and the review was a good one; I'm not complaining) thought otherwise. That stunned me because I didn't expect that kind of a response. I took for granted that everyone understand some aspects of gay erotica in the traditional sense. So I made a few changes in the second book and I hope I've allowed that one rough character to move forward in a more interesting way. It wasn't that I was intimidated by the review. I thought about it and I agreed with the review, which is why I made that part of the focus in the second book.

In any event, I know I wasn't the only one who had a rough time in 2014. So many people I know went through so many difficult periods I'm thankful my experiences weren't any worse than they were. Even the online book community seemed to get more vicious than ever. At one point I didn't think the attacks would stop. Some actually became litigious, which is something I didn't think I'd ever see. And with that came about a new brand of intolerance for free speech, which is a shame, because the original argument had nothing at all to do with free speech. Once again, bloggers took the biggest hit and we're still not sure where this will end. The courts often have an interesting way of treating bloggers.

It was an fast-paced year and even though I'm glad to see it go, I'm thankful for so many things that happened I can't even list them all here. Looking back, I think the good was balanced with the bad, to a certain extent. I even won something, which is not something that usually happens to me. I usually can't find my keys, or my phone is missing, or I left the door open in the car all night by accident. I'm used to that kind of thing, so when I actually do win something I'm stunned.

And even that story comes with some irony. Pop star, Trevor Donovan, posted an update on Facebook last week that asked people what their favorite Christmas gift story was. I normally don't even comment on those things, but I did have a favorite Christmas story and I shared it.When I was in college I worked part time in a men's clothing store. There was a scarf I wanted, but at the time I couldn't afford it. On Christmas Eve, during an employee party, a women co-worker handed me a package and inside was the scarf I'd told her I couldn't afford. It was such a nice gesture I never forgot it and I still have the scarf somewhere in my closet to this day.

And now I have a new favorite Christmas story: the one where I won a ski hat from Trevor Donovan for writing about my favorite Christmas story. I like happy endings like that. That's me in the hat above, in my horrible selfie. Unfortunately, my bad selfies don't have much hope for HEA. 

I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful New Year.

If there's one thing I learned this year, use the good china and don't save it for later.

   

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