Log in

Writing inspiration I heard today, from Neil Gaiman, talking to Elizabeth Gilbert on her Magic Lessons podcast:

"Audiences, fans, only ever want one thing, which is more of what they liked last time. And it is your job as an artist not to give that to them. 'Cause what you have to give them is what they don't know they want yet."

I love this and I agree, because I like to write things that don't entirely conform to genre guidelines. But of course I instantly thought of all those really successful writers who do turn out book after book of basically what the audience liked last time. And they seem happy, and the readers seem happy. Well, Neil talked about them right away too:

"There are dolphins and there are otters. ...The dolphin will come up, it will stand on its tail, it will do a somersault...and that's great... A dolphin will put on a dolphin show. The reason why there are no otter shows... the problem with an otter is if you get an otter to do a trick, and you give it a fish, the otter goes, 'Okay, that was fun,' and next time it'll do something completely different. Because why would you do the thing you just did again? Training otters is always a complete failure because what they want to do is the next thing. They don't want to do the thing they just did, and they definitely don't want to do it over and over again."

He acknowledges he's an otter (Liz Gilbert says she is too), and so am I; and they hasten to add (as do I) that we aren't demeaning the dolphin types here. We actually really admire them, and of course publishers love them. Publishers are less sure about what to do with otter types like me. They want us to find a niche, become a brand, be a reliable source of This Type of Book--like the dolphins. But even having written fiction for, gosh, over 25 years now, I've never been able to define what my type of book is. Because I like to do new things. I'd get unhappy and boxed-in if with each book I did more or less the same thing as last time.

I mean, I kind of have a signature style. I always have a love story, so in every book, I do bring characters together, drive them apart with obstacles, and put them together again. And I always deploy humor, at least in occasional scenes if not in a full-on comedy genre kind of way. (Though sometimes I go all the way into full-on comedy.) But some of my stories are paranormal and some are real-world. Some are modern, some take place long ago. In some books the central issues are life-and-death, while in others they only crest as high as relationship implosions. And even with the love stories, I like variety, which is probably part of why I love bringing in LGBTQ characters--lots more possibilities! Yay!

Publishers can count on dolphin types for their consistent work. They can't count on me or other otters for consistency. But they can count on this: if we don't write what we want to write, we won't be happy. And if we aren't happy, our work won't turn out as good. So, it's a bit of a gamble, taking us on. We know and we apologize. But maybe we'll end up giving readers what they didn't know they wanted, and then everyone wins.

Q&A with Jamie Deacon on 'Caught Inside'

I recently had the pleasure of reading a new YA male/male love story called Caught Inside in advance of its release--see my glowing review here.

The novel's summary:

Luke believes he has his life figured out…and then he meets Theo.

It should have been simple—a summer spent with his girlfriend Zara at her family’s holiday cottage in Cornwall. Seventeen-year-old Luke Savage jumps at the chance, envisioning endless hours of sunbathing on the private beach and riding the waves on his beloved surfboard. He isn’t interested in love. Though his rugged good looks and lazy charm mean he can have his pick of girls, he has no intention of falling for anyone.

Nothing prepares Luke for his reaction to Theo, the sensitive Oxford undergraduate who is Zara’s cousin and closest friend. All at once, he is plunged along a path of desire and discovery that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself. No one, especially Zara, must find out; what he and Theo have is too new, too fragile. But as the deceit spirals beyond their control, people are bound to get hurt, Luke most of all.


And today, author Jamie Deacon has answered some interview questions for me! Check them out:

MR: I loved the setting and now I long to visit Cornwall. What is your connection/history with the area?

JD: Oh, I’m so glad I’ve inspired you to visit the West Country. It’s a beautiful part of the world. I was lucky enough to enjoy many family holidays in Cornwall whilst growing up, and it’s a place that’s close to my heart. And of course the Cornish coast is a hotspot for surfers, so it would naturally appeal to my hero!

MR: What are your favorite types of scenes to write? And what are the hardest?

JD: I must have a taste for the dramatic, because I love writing scenes with a lot of angst, something which probably won’t surprise readers of Caught Inside. Opening scenes are the hardest for me, I think. Finding the best way to introduce readers to the story and characters can be a challenge. In fact, I’ve lost count of the number of times I rewrote the first chapter of Caught Inside.

MR: Is there a genre you haven’t written yet but would like to try? How about a genre you’ll probably never write?

JD: LGBT stories are my passion, and I also can’t imagine writing outside young and new adult fiction. There’s something about YA and NA, the rawness of the emotion, how the characters are just discovering themselves and what they want in life, that really appeals to me. I’d definitely like to try my hand at something other than contemporary, though. I have an outline for a romantic suspense trilogy set in a prestigious art college, and even a tentative idea for a novel with a fantastical twist.

MR: What elements do you especially like to include in a love story?

JD: Lots of obstacles. I love tender moments and happy endings, but for me these are all the sweeter and more satisfying when the protagonists have had to work hard to get there.

MR: I must ask: are you a surfer? The descriptions of the sport in the book seemed realistic to me, but then, I’ve never really tried it!

JD: Hahahaha! No, I’m not a surfer. Like Zara, Luke’s girlfriend in Caught Inside, my balance is atrocious. The closest I’ve ever come to the sport is water-skiing, and it’s fair to say I spent far more time in the water than on it. I’m thrilled that my portrayal of surfing came across as authentic, though. It was really important to me to capture Luke’s passion, and I did a ton of research in an attempt to get it right.

MR: What are you working on now, and/or planning to write next?

JD: I’m currently writing Forbidden Steps, the second novel in my Boys on the Brink series. This one deals with a fledgling step family and all the tensions and conflict that so often results when two families are dismantled, then pieced back together to form something entirely new. The fact that my heroes are stepbrothers who fall in love only adds to the drama! In the meantime, a short story of mine will be appearing in an anthology of NA m/m romances about taking chances, due for release later this year.


I am looking forward to those new stories, for sure! In the meantime, connect with Jamie:

Boys on the Brink Reviews

Jamie lives in a tranquil spot close to the River Thames in Berkshire, England, and has always been just a little out of place—the only redhead in a family of brunettes; an introvert far more at ease with dogs than with people; a connoisseur of simple pleasures in a society intent on the quest for wealth and fame. Despite an outward cynicism, Jamie is a romantic at heart, and, when not immersed in a book, can mostly be found writing emotional stories where young men from all walks of life are thrust headlong into the breathless, euphoric, often painful whirlwind called love.

Get Caught Inside at:

Beaten Track Publishing
Barnes & Noble

Today I'm excited to welcome back author Kaitlin Bevis, who, like me, loves writing Greek-mythology-based stories. And she has a new book coming out soon! Love and War, the latest in her Daughters of Zeus series, will be released on Oct. 21, and you can preorder it now. Read all about it here, and check out an excerpt too, and dang is that a gorgeous cover or what?


After narrowly escaping with her life, Aphrodite wakes up to find herself at the demigods’ base camp—a gorgeous tropical island. Powerless and injured, she has no choice but to glamour herself as a demigoddess in order to find out what’s really going on. Lucky for her, she’s not alone. Ares is with her, also in disguise. But she soon realizes she might be more of a liability than an asset when her panic attacks and nightmares threaten to expose them both.

Ares is as anxious as anyone to shut down the demigods’ plot. But right now, all he can think about is Aphrodite. He almost killed her, for Gods’ sake! And though the timing couldn’t be any worse, he’s falling hard and fast. He’ll do anything to protect her . . . even if it means sacrificing himself.

Still, they find allies in the most unexpected places . . .

More goddess than demigoddess, Medea is married to the rebel leader, Jason. But there’s something odd going on. Jason is acting very strange, and Medea finds herself drawn to a new demigoddess who mysteriously arrived on the island half-dead. She senses there’s more to this visitor than meets the eye. Little does she guess . . .

War is coming, there’s no doubt. But, in her weakened state, does Aphrodite have any hope of surviving it?

Read an excerpt here!

Read more...Collapse )


Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book and a pen. If the ending didn't agree with her, she rewrote it. Because she's always wanted to be a writer, she spent high school and college learning everything she could to achieve that goal. After graduating college with a BFA and Masters in English, Kaitlin went on to write The Daughters of Zeus series.

Here in Seattle, cool drizzle has moved in, and I was outside just now enjoying it, and listening to Dead Can Dance, and thereby having a delightfully Halloweenish feel to my lunch hour, and that led me to a revelation about Halloween and the Southern Hemisphere:

I have friends in Australia (e.g. writer Dean Mayes​) who have expressed dissatisfaction about Halloween; it seems to them just a pointless imported American holiday. And I've always been all, "Noooo, but Halloween is our one truly cool holiday! All the others are tedious, but Halloween's different and spooky and crazy and awesome!" Which I still believe.

HOWEVER, now that I think about it, I bet the problem is simply this: in the Southern Hemisphere, they've got Halloween in the middle of spring. And you cannot have Halloween in the middle of spring. That makes zero sense.

Halloween (or properly Samhain) is all about the decay of summer into autumn, life into death, the veil between our world and the Underworld becoming thin, and all that spooky goodness. You MUST have it on a chilly autumn night with leaves falling off the trees and scudding along the street in the wind. You totally cannot have it among blossoming bushes and greening gardens.

So, see if this makes more intuitive sense, my Australian and other Southern-Hemisphere friends: picture Halloween on April 30/ May 1. Then picture Beltane ("May Day") on October 31. I'm betting that fits a whole lot better. Right? (This blogger has said as much too. I feel silly that this confusion hasn't occurred to me until now.)

Seasons and holidays: sorted.

Gene Wilder

Oh, Gene Wilder... 2016 has been a cruel year for celebrities and the reaper. Jeez.

Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles are two of the first movies I ever remember seeing, on the VHS machine my mom and dad rented from the newfangled video store in the early '80s. We got our own copies ASAP and watched them over and over. To this day I can pretty much still recite them. Safe to say Gene Wilder (along with Mel Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, and the rest of the team) were integral at shaping my bizarre sense of humor. Thank you for that, folks; a thousand times thank you.

Hi everyone,
I finally rounded out my Harry Potter condensed parody collection by writing one for Order of the Phoenix, and it is now done and you can read it here! (Also here.)

Or at least, my parody series WAS complete until they released that eighth book yesterday. I'm ignoring that detail for now.
Feel free to send anyone to my full collection of parodies if you think they'd like them. They include not only the HP books but the Lord of the Rings movies, and a couple of other random things.

Now I get to bring my attention back to my own novels, which have been a tad neglected during this process, but which I'll be happy to dive into again.

Hope you're having a lovely summer!


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, condensed

by Molly Ringle
August 1, 2016
With no permission from, and many apologies and thanks to, J.K. Rowling.


HARRY: The Dursleys are mean and my wizard friends aren’t telling me the Voldemort news and I’m grumpy. I mean, yes, that’s my usual mood for most of the series, but I’m REALLY FEELING IT this book, you guys.
Then his summer gets a lot more exciting when DEMENTORS appear in the alley and corner HARRY and DUDLEY! A DEMENTOR sucks DUDLEY’s face until HARRY chases it off with the Patronus Charm.
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT OF CAPS LOCK RAGE: Hello! I’ll be tallying caps lock rage. So far, one line for Harry, followed by one for Dudley. Carry on.
Read more...Collapse )

Harry Potter and the...Vanishing Kittens??

So I'm re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in order to (finally!) round out my condensed parody collection. And here was this I came across at the start of chapter 16:

"Hermione had actually progressed to vanishing kittens"

Another item for the list of times the Hogwarts curriculum really disturbs me. Making KITTENS VANISH FOREVER? How is this okay, and not Unforgivable? Or even if it's okay under wonky wizarding ethics, how is it fine with Hermione, who gets all up in arms about house-elves' rights? Apparently the Vanishing spell doesn't just make things invisible, either; it sends them into "non-being." So that's better than Avada Kedavra...how?

And the book even says they were moving up from Vanishing snails to Vanishing mammals, because mammals are much more difficult to Vanish, so therefore the POINT in this class is to learn how to make living creatures vanish forever. When are they planning to use that? Defense against bear attacks? Surely Stunning is more ethical there. (And then why don't they just Vanish Umbridge or Voldemort...ha...)

It's a messed-up school, all right. But I guess it still makes for a good story.

The Greek gods as Rubin's Four Tendencies

In her books about happiness and habits, writer Gretchen Rubin delineates what she calls the Four Tendencies. They are, in short:

Upholders: respond readily to both outer and inner expectations (that is, expectations from others and from themselves)
Questioners: meet inner expectations, but question outer expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense
Obligers: meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
Rebels: resist all expectations, outer and inner alike

You can take the quiz here to find out your own tendency. (I’m a Questioner. My thought when that answer came up: “Hmm, I don’t know, I really thought I was an Upholder. I question the...oh.”)
More here on the tendencies if you’re curious.

But for now, I thought it’d be fun to examine where the characters in my Greek myth trilogy fell on this framework (The Chrysomelia Stories, starting with Persephone's Orchard). So here goes!

The heroes

Hades and Persephone: both Questioners. In ancient days, Hades resists conforming to the lifestyle of his fellow immortals, and instead finds his way into the Underworld and takes up residence there, asking questions all the while. Persephone, similarly, resists her mother’s expectations about what her marriage and life should look like, and follows her curiosity toward a life with Hades instead. In the modern day, their reincarnated selves behave much the same.

Aphrodite: Obliger. Sure, she’s quite the independent and strong woman, but she does basically please others (and teach them to please themselves) as the point of her existence. However, she does also seek to please herself a good deal too, so…I wonder if Aphrodite is actually a rather unconventional Upholder?

Dionysos: Rebel. The very god of rebels! In my version, mind you, he starts out more as an Obliger, living only to please his lover. But in being saved from death and becoming reborn, he strikes out on his own and decides to devote his life to bringing revelry and unrestrained pleasure to the masses, and enjoy some casual worship along the way. Tabitha, in the modern day, shows her Rebel personality too, by only going to class or showing up for people if and when she feels like it, but she does love her friends and will travel the world to see them or lay down her life to save them, simply because she wants to.

Hekate: Upholder. She has her insecurities and sometimes feels out of place, what with her peculiar gifts and upbringing, but the woman can do well-nigh anything. And you can rely on her 100% if she says she’s got your back. Same goes for Zoe, in the modern world.

Hermes: Questioner. He’s charismatic and engaging, but holds his cards close to the vest, always; you’ll never know the extent of the divine trickster’s clever thoughts. He has complex plans and he’ll see them through, but can you rely on him to do as expected or asked? Absolutely not. Not in this lifetime or any other.

Poseidon: Obliger. He uses his water magic to protect his loved ones, even when he has to keep his powers a secret, and even when it means being lonely. But he does show some of what Gretchen Rubin calls Obliger Rebellion, in breaking the rules to rescue Amphitrite from her life of near-slavery. But even that is done to make HER life happier (as well as his own).

The villains (leaders of the cult Thanatos)

Quentin: Upholder.
She’s got nerves of steel, never lets emotion or setbacks get in the way, and sticks to her plans and her mission all the way to the end.

Landon: Obliger. He’s not really cut out for this villain job, honestly, but he wants to do his teammates proud, and now he’s in it too deep to get out easily, so he’s going to try to see this through, to impress them. He really is.

Tracy: Questioner. This evil cult needs a shake-up, if you ask him, and he’s got some new ideas he’s going to try. And he really doesn’t care if you don’t like them. He believes in them and he’s going to do them anyway.

Try the Four Tendencies on your own favorite characters!

I'm happy to be able to liven up this Monday by bringing back Kaitlin Bevis, author of the Daughters of Zeus series! We've been talking about our Greek myth series and the different ways we've handled the characters of the gods, so here she is on this week's topic. Welcome, Kaitlin! Take it away...


Last time I was a guest on this blog, I touched on the surprising similarities between the characters in my Daughters of Zeus series and Molly Ringle’s Chrysomelia Stories Series. Today, I’d like to talk about two characters who couldn’t be more different.

Poseidon and Ares.

Now, there were no saints in the Greek Pantheon. To create a sympathetic character for a retelling there are some major things that the writer either needs to reframe or just ignore. The characters of Poseidon and Ares in both of our books are great demonstrations of that in action on both sides of the concept.

Take Poseidon for instance. In Mythology Poseidon could be benevolent to his followers. His myths inspired the kind, thoughtful, fun god we see in Molly’s series (adorably portrayed by Liam, who funnily enough, reminds me of my Triton), Rick Riordan’s series, and more.

Myths also portray him a violent rapist with control issues and a mercurial temper. Which is more reflective of my Poseidon.

In both my story and Molly’s, there’s something deeper beneath the surface. Both of our Poseidon’s are driven by complex motivations and strong beliefs. We just let them drive our characters in different directions.

Ares is an example where I looked the other way. In mythology, Ares was rash and violent. He had a reputation for being blood thirsty. In Roman Mythology a rape committed by him set the entire empire into motion.

But my Ares is very much a sympathetic love interest. The second generation gods in my books are almost always their own foils. Persephone is basically the goddess of spring and rebirth and she’s terrified of change, Aphrodite’s the goddess of Love and wouldn’t know a healthy relationship if it fell into her lap, and Ares, poor misunderstood Ares is a god of war who hates conflict. I figured if he was “Zeus’s most hated son,” then it was probably because he was as far from him in characterization as possible.

Zeus is a character Molly and I are very much in agreement with being an ass.

Sometimes people get very frustrated when a god they’ve heard a million terrible things about is portrayed in a kind light. (Don’t believe me, look up reviews for Disney’s Hercules). But in every Greek retelling, the author has had to reframe someone as a sympathetic and likable character. The original Greek Gods were monsters. Every one. They were wonderfully complex monsters that had moments of shining humanity and kindness, but those moments are easily overshadowed with only a minute’s research. But, like time, these characters have evolved. As a society we have evolved and changed. We don’t admire the same things we used to. We look down upon things we used to think were just fine. As we evolve, so should our heroes.

* * *

Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book and a pen. If the ending didn't agree with her, she rewrote it. Because she's always wanted to be a writer, she spent high school and college learning everything she could to achieve that goal. After graduating college with a BFA and Masters in English, Kaitlin went on to write The Daughters of Zeus series.

Visit Kaitlin at her website, and browse all her books at Goodreads. Ask for them anywhere your favorite books are sold!

What I pinned to my purse this week. Almost literally the very least I could do, but I couldn't not do it.


A cross-post from my Tumblr:

I’d like to share with you how our youngest child learned and dealt with the shocking, traumatizing truth that same-sex couples can marry in the U.S.:

Our 10-year-old son: I love Lionel Messi. [A famous soccer player.]
Our 6-year-old son: Are you going to MARRY him?
10-year-old: No! He’s way too old for me.
6-year-old: Also, boys can’t marry other boys.
10-year-old, me, and Dad, in unison: Yes they can.
6-year-old, cheerfully unconcerned: Oh. Okay.

(In case you wanted very anecdotal evidence that homophobia is learned, not inborn.)


I know I thank you a lot, but I wanted to again, for supporting me as a writer, and supporting me as a member of the LGBT community. Thank you for writing how you do. Thank you for being someone I can comfortably send this message to.

That's part of a message I got today from a young woman I've never met, but with whom I've exchanged several emails about writing and publishing--and, occasionally, LGBT issues. Look, I'm a boring, straight, stay-at-home mom who writes about fictional people, some of whom are LGBT, because I like all kinds of love stories. But I consider myself practically a poser; or at least, not really someone who's putting near as much effort as she could into being the good ally I'd like to be. So what kind of world are we living in where someone as half-assed about LGBT kindness as me is getting thanked for being someone who's safe to send a message to about such issues? It breaks my freaking heart. We've come a long way, but we have a still longer way to go yet.

If you're an ally too, and you haven't said so, say so. Pin a rainbow heart on your jacket. Chances are, someone out there is going to feel comforted when they see it. Even if they aren't feeling up to saying anything.


Latest Month

October 2016


RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow