Fever Pitch is Available Now

Fever Pitch Tour Banner_edited-1

Fever Pitch cover Heidi Cullinan

FEVER PITCH

AVAILABLE NOW from Samhain Publishing

Book Two of the Love Lessons Series

Sometimes you have to play love by ear.
Aaron Seavers is a pathetic mess, and he knows it. He lives in terror of incurring his father’s wrath and disappointing his mother, and he can’t stop dithering about where to go to college—with fall term only weeks away. Ditched by a friend at a miserable summer farewell party, all he can do is get drunk in the laundry room and regret he was ever born. Until a geeky-cute classmate lifts his spirits, leaving him confident of two things: his sexual orientation, and where he’s headed to school.

Giles Mulder can’t wait to get the hell out of Oak Grove, Minnesota, and off to college, where he plans to play his violin and figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. But when Aaron appears on campus, memories of hometown hazing threaten what he’d hoped would be his haven. As the semester wears on, their attraction crescendos from double-cautious to a rich, swelling chord. But if more than one set of controlling parents have their way, the music of their love could come to a shattering end.

Warning: Contains showmances, bad parenting, Walter Lucas, and a cappella.

All Romance Ebooks • Amazon • Amazon UK • Barnes & Noble • Kobo • Google Play • iTunes •

Goodreads • Excerpt

Book Page on Website • Book Page for Love Lessons (book one in the series)


 

Samhain’s Bookstore is down and will relaunch October 1. Samhain’s 30% off new release sale will extend by one week for this title. If you preordered Fever Pitch from Samhain and want it today, email  customerservice@samhainpublishing.com to have your ebook mailed directly to you. Otherwise, it will deliver as soon as the store is live again.

How to get your Samhain preorder for Fever Pitch tomorrow from the Samhain Store

If you placed a pre-order for Fever Pitch and really want the book tomorrow, email  customerservice@samhainpublishing.com and ask to have it hand delivered. Tell them your pre-order number if you have it, and tell them the format, though they likely have that available. If you’re not in a hurry, it should arrive on your device Wednesday, and regular purchases will be up then too.

Fever Pitch will be on sale an extra week because of the store changeover, so if you’re on the fence, you have an extra week to get the biggest savings.

If you placed a pre-order and REALLY REALLY had your heart set on reading when it downloaded at midnight, email me at heidi@heidicullinan.com and say HELP ME WALTER, tell me your preorder number and format, and we’ll talk.

Otherwise, the book is out tomorrow and all third party sites will proceed as usual.

getting in

 

FEVER PITCH

Coming September 30 from Samhain Publishing

Book Two of the Love Lessons Series
Sometimes you have to play love by ear.
Aaron Seavers is a pathetic mess, and he knows it. He lives in terror of incurring his father’s wrath and disappointing his mother, and he can’t stop dithering about where to go to college—with fall term only weeks away. Ditched by a friend at a miserable summer farewell party, all he can do is get drunk in the laundry room and regret he was ever born. Until a geeky-cute classmate lifts his spirits, leaving him confident of two things: his sexual orientation, and where he’s headed to school.

Giles Mulder can’t wait to get the hell out of Oak Grove, Minnesota, and off to college, where he plans to play his violin and figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. But when Aaron appears on campus, memories of hometown hazing threaten what he’d hoped would be his haven. As the semester wears on, their attraction crescendos from double-cautious to a rich, swelling chord. But if more than one set of controlling parents have their way, the music of their love could come to a shattering end.

Warning: Contains showmances, bad parenting, Walter Lucas, and a cappella.

Win Fever Pitch Early!

Fever Pitch Tour Banner_edited-1

I’m giving Fever Pitch ebooks away TONIGHT to TWO lucky winners!

To enter, go to this link (I can’t embed Rafflecopter, le sigh) and enter as many times as the system will let you. Tonight I’ll pick the two winners, email you your prize, and you’ll be reading before your friends are.

Stop reading this post, and go enter already!

#IndieFirst: Join Our Ames Event

via firehouse.org

On November 29, 2014, at Firehouse Books in Ames, Iowa, I’ll be hosting an #IndieFirst Author and Indie Bookseller Event.

This is all Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer’s fault, though I’ve been meaning to do a local event in central Iowa for some time. Right now all I know is that it’s being held at Firehouse Books in Ames, Iowa, on November 29. I’m assuming afternoon but honestly I’m not even that far into firm details. I will be there, and a lot of people are interested, but largely everything is still unfolding.

Did you read this and get very excited because you really, really want to come, either as a reader or an author*, or simply a local supporter? Fantastic. Fill out this form, an interest survey that will help me better plan and define the event. Also consider joining this mailing list, which will keep you up to date as details emerge. That list won’t be shared with any authors, or the bookstore, and you won’t be added to my author mailing list either. (This means, too, if you’re on MY mailing list, you need to join this one also to get information on the event.)

I’ll eventually put info on this blog and on flyers around town too, when I have more details. In the meantime, sign up for more news, fill out the inquiry form, and we’ll get this party started.

 

*I’m taking ALL interested inquiries for attending authors, but I’m leaving the final decision up to the bookstore owner, both in number and attendees. I can’t promise anyone a spot. This is a used bookstore also selling new releases, which means there are a lot of ordering and selling options. I’m especially interested in Iowa and very local authors at least stopping by, even if you only have ebook flats to share. This event is about showcasing independent booksellers, and hopefully we can toss a bit of money at a local charity as well.

A Special Message From Walter Lucas About Preorders for Fever Pitch at Samhain’s Store.

Walter fierce

Hey. Walter Lucas here, passing on a special message for anyone who has already put in a preorder for Fever Pitch on samhainpublishing.com. The rest of you can listen too, but Samhain Store loyalists? This song is for you.

Here’s what’s happening. Samhain Publishing is moving to a bigger, better website where they can serve you better. I know that’s a line everybody says when they hang up the “pardon our progress” sign, but the goal truly is to make your shopping experience better. Samhain knows a lot of you love shopping there, and they want to make you love it more, and bring your friends.

Unfortunately, to do this at some point the site has to go down. Web stuff isn’t easy, ever, and when you have a complicated shopping cart feature, it’s important to get it right. As you can see, right now, the Samhain Store is down. It went ahead of schedule, which could be great news for Fever Pitch preorders, because everything might be switched over in time for your automatic downloads. Because I know how some of you roll. You stay up until midnight waiting for that file. And then you’re all over social media in the morning complaining how you were up until 4AM and you still didn’t finish. Except you love to do that. I know. I’ve got your numbers.

Samhain Coming Soon 2011The problem is there’s no way to know right now if the site will be up on September 30 or not. Or September 29 at 11PM, when those preorders normally start rolling out. I hate to say it, but it’s entirely possible you might have preordered only to find the site still down on release day.

No worries. I’ve got your back, baby.

Here’s what you do. If you preordered, say a little prayer to Saint Timothy or light a candle or toss a penny in a fountain and hope it all goes through early and there’s no problem at all. If it’s Monday afternoon and it’s still dark in your happy storefront, email Samhain customer service:  customerservice@samhainpublishing.com. Tell them you have a preorder, and they can look you up and then set you up. It might be Tuesday morning before you get it–at a more reasonable office hour than midnight–but you’ll get it. Hand-delivered to you, via email. Electronic hands, I suppose. In any event, Jacob’s my man. He’ll take care of you.

ETA: Samhain has confirmed if the site is still down on Monday, you won’t just get hand delivery, you’ll get it early, on Monday. I’ll totally be in touch about that. Watch this space.

But if things do get snarled, if you do end up one those midnight lurkers and you couldn’t have your late night fix, if you had to wait and you were disappointed, here’s what you do. You email assist@heidicullinan.com with the subject line “Dear Walter” and you tell me all about how bummed you are. Heidi’s Helpers will forward it to me, and I will personally answer you and offer you my condolences and some naughty links, if you request them. It’s not a book at midnight, but it is something the third party people don’t get.

Hopefully this is all much ado about nothing, but if not, now you have your info. Get ready for Fever Pitch, guys. Yes, I’m in it, but there are plenty of other boys and girls to steal your hearts. Plus, I get married. You don’t want to miss that, do you?


Fever Pitch cover Heidi Cullinan

FEVER PITCH

Coming September 30 from Samhain Publishing

Book Two of the Love Lessons Series
Sometimes you have to play love by ear.
Aaron Seavers is a pathetic mess, and he knows it. He lives in terror of incurring his father’s wrath and disappointing his mother, and he can’t stop dithering about where to go to college—with fall term only weeks away. Ditched by a friend at a miserable summer farewell party, all he can do is get drunk in the laundry room and regret he was ever born. Until a geeky-cute classmate lifts his spirits, leaving him confident of two things: his sexual orientation, and where he’s headed to school.

Giles Mulder can’t wait to get the hell out of Oak Grove, Minnesota, and off to college, where he plans to play his violin and figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. But when Aaron appears on campus, memories of hometown hazing threaten what he’d hoped would be his haven. As the semester wears on, their attraction crescendos from double-cautious to a rich, swelling chord. But if more than one set of controlling parents have their way, the music of their love could come to a shattering end.

Warning: Contains showmances, bad parenting, Walter Lucas, and a cappella.

How to Appropriate by Not Really Trying: An Author’s Guide to Writing Socially Marginalized Communities in Romance

appropriation

I hate to start a post with a dictionary definition, but this topic needs every card laid out on the table. Let’s begin with the beginning. Appropriation is the act of using something that doesn’t belong to you as if it does.

Authors do this hourly. It’s practically our job: we’re professional pretenders. In my published career alone, I’ve appropriated more than I have time to list, but let’s tick off a few. Long-distance truck drivers. Pawn shop owners. Ballet dancers. Football players. Poker players. Italians.

Drag queens. Practitioners of BDSM. Persons with OCD and autism. Transgender women. Gay men.

Some of these things are not like the other. If a poker player reads Double Blind and feels I got something wrong, their personal injury goes no deeper than annoyance, possibly with a side order of irritation. The same goes for the truck drivers and football players and Italian families. None of these groups currently experience deep prejudice. If I screw up when I borrow them for my work, the egg is on my face alone, and they have every right to call me on it. They will do this from a position of if not privilege, at least a confidence in their semi-comfortable place in our common culture.

If I misrepresent the groups italicized above, matters change quickly. Every group listed have been significantly marginalized by the societies in which they exist, and by simply declaring themselves part of that community, the members experience prejudice, social stigma, and often outright abuse. If I screw up when writing about these groups, not only do I have egg on my face, I contribute further harm and insult to persons already bearing a full plate of social struggle. If they simply hear about it happening, that’s bad enough. But if they purchase my book to see themselves represented in a positive way, and I slap them in the face? That’s bad. That’s very, very bad.

Twitter is the world’s largest receptacle of appropriated persons crying into the wind. I’ve seen Indian-Americans despairing over the appropriation of namaste—I have to admit, it hadn’t occurred to me until they pointed out that namaste, bitches is horribly offensive and appropriating to Hindu culture, but I wince now every time I see a bumper sticker or shirt or whatever else some idiot wants to slap that on. I’ve seen readers who have epilepsy furious over poor research in a novel, where their condition is used as character color and science is discarded because it’s easier if meds and epilepsy worked a different way. (Point of order: I just looked up epilepsy as I typed this, unsure if I should call it a disease or not, and I edited out illness as a synonym too. This took me less than two minutes of Googlefu.)

This morning I was the frustrated person on twitter. Someone rec’d a gay romance, and I was all psyched because I’m always looking for a good book and this person never fails me–and then I read the blurb.

…hiding his sexual preference from everyone…

*record scratch*

One of two things just happened. Either you read that little snippet and winced, hissed through your teeth, or were pissed, or you don’t know what I’m talking about. For those of you in column A, bear with me. Column B, come with me.

This is a link to GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide. Revisit it often, because stuff changes and gets added. Germane to our discussion at hand is paragraph three, which I will paste here:

Offensive: “sexual preference”
Preferred: “sexual orientation” or “orientation.” The term “sexual preference” is typically used to suggest that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is a choice and therefore can and should be “cured.” Sexual orientation is the accurate description of an individual’s enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex and is inclusive of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, as well as straight men and women (see AP & New York Times Style).

When I objected to this on Twitter, it was suggested preference was okay because the character in question was deeply closeted. Actually, that makes me much more nervous. One, that term has zero place in a public blurb. If the character uses that term to describe himself within the story, that’s potentially permissible, but only if he is corrected and his schooling of appropriate terminology is part of the plot. The blurb is a no-go. Because what that ONE WORD did in that blurb was take me from a well-known author of gay romance possibly reading and rec’ing that book to writing a two-thousand word blog post on why that book is probably a very bad idea. That one word tells me the author hasn’t so much as glanced at the GLAAD media reference guide, let alone done any training. That the author is usually an author of heterosexual romance makes me further put on the brakes, because now I’m worried that word was a flag hiding deeper appropriation. That might not be the case—this author might be a huge ally who has done all sorts of research and that word was simply a fart. Unfortunately, all I have is that blurb and that word, and I’m not just failing to bite. I’m running and shunning, and I would actively discourage that book if asked what I thought. Based on one very unnecessary and poorly-chosen word.

I don’t hold the blogger who rec’d the book responsible for knowing this, as she’s a reader, and she’s supposed to be able to read good books and enjoy them. Apparently the book itself is great, and I’m sorry I’m having to pass. The faux-pas is utterly on the author, and it is a faux-pas, and it should be corrected. She should talk to her publisher TODAY about getting the blurb changed TODAY up to and including the backs of print books. She’d do well to submit the book to someone in the gay romance community and say, “Would you read this and make sure that’s the only terminology/community mistake I made? I really want to get this right.” For the record, I would make time to do that reading and would be honest and patient in any education attempts. But honestly, there are a lot of qualified and willing people on the ground. While it’s not the job of the appropriated to help authors avoid missteps, in addition to being generally open to education efforts, marginalized groups often publish media guides and leave easily Google-able clues as to how they’d like to be addressed and dealt with.

Unfortunately, I meant well is not a defense when appropriation goes wrong. I’m sorry is the lead, immediate correction is the next step, and contrition is the path forward. If you’re writing about any group who experiences prejudice, get your ducks in a row and your Google on. The problem is even getting a doctoral thesis in the appropriated community can’t stop some mistakes. I have made mistakes in appropriation. Even being a member of the appropriated community can lead to argument about how the group should be represented–but when we are tourists, we must always, always proceed with respect and prepare to defer, especially when representing them in fiction.

I am a woman. When I write gay men, I am appropriating. There’s no if, and, or but about it. I’m not a gay man. I’ve researched all day long, I mind my Ps and Qs, I have put in months worth of volunteer hours for LGBT causes and have donated to them for a decade, but I do not have a penis and desire romantic relations with men, ergo, I am not a gay man.ETA: It was pointed out to me one can in fact, be a gay man without a penis. Sorry for my screwup, and thanks for correcting me, Heidi Belleau. See how easy it is to screw up? See how easy it is to correct and apologize?

As an author of gay romance, is my job to be careful and smart, and when I screw up, it’s on me to apologize and correct. I’m quite sure there are gay men who regard me warily, seeing my bio at face value—woman married to man—writing their stories. That’s fine–that’s my work to win them, or to allow them to decline. When I pitch/sell gay romance as a type of romance to women, regardless of their orientation, I am careful about how I speak. When I am interviewed by the media, I cram for hours in advance and if it’s radio, I take notes. Every time I write a gay character, every time I open my mouth or type words about gay romance, I carry the weight of men who have been abused physically and mentally over not only generations but centuries. I forget that at my peril, and at the expense of their experience.

This seems so easy, so basic—do your research. And honestly, that’s the only sin in the blurb mentioned above. Except there’s another elephant in the room when talking about women writing gay men, appropriating gay men, and this discussion isn’t complete without bringing it up: women are fighting their own appropriation. Women are marginalized too.

#GamerGate and #WomenAgainstFeminism are exhibits A and B, see also Gamora’s exclusion from Guardian’s of the Galaxy merchandise aimed at little boys. See basically all of western culture. Writing romance novels of any orientation is a feminist act, because every one is a middle finger at the male-centric idea of romance being silly and stupid and lesser. Men in romance novels fall in love too, profess devotion, and do all kinds of things they’re not allowed to do as freely in our messed up culture. In lesbian romances, the men are secondary characters not required for love and romance.

In gay romances, however, several things are going on. On the one hand, we have beautiful accurate representations of masculinity, of strength and vulnerability. We have gay men with agency. But, particularly when straight women write gay men, or men having sex with men, there is great potential for a subversion element, the seizing of power from men. Because gay men are still men, and men still have the lion’s share of the power in our culture.

It is easy to use man having sex with a man as not a representation of gay men but as a weapon against the oppressor. Subverting the idealized, monstrous, impossible yet socially dominating straight male ideal is a heady rush, and in heterosexual romance, I have to say, knock yourself out. But the second that monstrous man wanders over the line into gay man, everything changes. Gay men know the monstrous hell of that oppression in a different way than women, but they know it. Women wouldn’t like being subverted in gay male-authored novels any more than gay men appreciate it in the novels of women. In fact, even when women write gay romances, the women in the secondary roles are closely scrutinized for misogyny by male and female readers in the community. Some female readers of gay romance will say they only read gay romances because they have been so upset by the portrayal of women in popular literature and culture, including straight romance, that they would prefer to only read men falling in love with men. There’s a lot of work there to be done in romance, to help those women stop feeling so ostracized by their own gender. But absolutely that work isn’t done by subverting the male archetype via gay men without thought or care. In fact, that will only make things worse.

The bitter pill in all this is I want, very much so, for authors of heterosexual romance to include LGBT characters, primary or secondary, in romance. But it’s well-past time we started talking about appropriation, not just in LGBT but in everything. Write outside the lines of your experience, but do your research and your homework. For LGBT romance, it’s a lot more than a few episodes of porn and a YouTube coming out video. It’s reading gay history and volunteering at youth shelters and looking in the faces of girls and boys kicked out of their homes because they dared to declare who they wanted to love. If you want to understand why preference is an insult, that’s an excellent place to start.

But this applies to everything. Any culture or group of persons whose experience does not belong to you—do your research. When you get it wrong, correct, apologize, and learn. Because there really is something worse than having no voice at all. It’s someone using your voice to insult you.

Knowing they’re making a profit from it is a cruel kick in the teeth.

Fever Pitch Grand Prize Raffle

Fever Pitch Grand Prize image

Follow this link to enter this Rafflecopter giveaway, find it on my main website, or look for it on the main Fever Pitch Blog Tour.

This contest starts Monday, September 15 at midnight CST and ends October 13 at 10AM CST.  What prizes are available for the Grand Prize Raffle? THREE, for three different winners.

RC image one_edited-1

Prize one:

  • Win an electronic copy of Fever Pitch for you, or for a friend
  • Receive by mail a signed paperback of book one in the series, Love Lessons
  • Choose between a $10 iTunes gift card or one month of premium Spotify membership to enjoy the a cappella music you read about in Fever Pitch
  • Select an item of your choice from the Heidi Cullinan Saint Timothy Swag Store (Items still building, especially quote mugs)

RC LL series prize

Prize two:

  • Win an electronic copy of Love Lessons and Fever Pitch for you or for a friend
  • Pick or design a Love Lessons series quote mug from the Saint Timothy store (if the quote you love isn’t there, tell Heidi and she’ll design a mug just for you!)
  • Pick another established item from the Saint Timothy store, anything goes! (More products added all the time.)

RC blog prize_edited-1

Prize three:

  • Win an electron copy of Fever Pitch (for you or for a friend
  • Tell Heidi who your favorite character from the Love Lessons series is, and they’ll write a public blog post personalized to you!

There are eight different ways to enter, and some you can do more than once. This is my first Rafflecopter experience, so hopefully it all goes well. (I’m really not sure about the Pinterest images, but I’m going on faith that they’ll post okay.)

If you enjoy Fever Pitch and want to share the love on your blog or social media site, there are a number of quote images here. I never want readers to feel like selling my books is their job, but your word of mouth is absolutely the best advertising on the planet. I will never say no to your help!

Good luck to everyone!

May Walter be ever in your favor.

Navigating Fear and Instinct

Thor no clue

Today’s been a damn weird day, and every last second of it has been me bouncing like a BB between fear and instinct.

There are deeper layers than simply this, but today I was coming to Jesus on my novel due end of October hopefully end of November absolutely, and I was also accepting while I’m much better post surgery, I still have some lingering chronic pain issues, and I need to be aggressive to address them. Both were problems I needed to solve, but neither issue had a clear answer, nor a clear place to seek the answer. The novel was actually the easy part. I’ve been to this rodeo.

This is the part where it comes undone in my hands because I did it wrong, because it’s essential I first do it wrong. It’s how I roll. I write 40-60k, it starts to lurch, I look back and see holes and frayed bits, and I redo. I have no idea what other authors do, but for me it’s all about the conflict threads. The conflict comes out of character, and I only know so much of their character when I write the synopsis or outline or both. By 40-60k, I know all about them. I know who they are, I know how and why the lie and what their nose does when they do it. I’m pretty militant about a main conflict through line, individual conflicts for each character (conflicts coming out of their individual character) and then they all knit together at the end in a nice big bloom, or sometimes a firecracker. This is a firecracker book. My entire goal is for someone to put this book down and go OH MY GOD THAT WAS SO AMAZING. I want them to feel not that I am amazing, but that the book was so intense that it was its own thing and an intense, incredible, happy ride. That, grasshopper, does not ever happen by accident.

I’m at the part, though, where I have to cut open my arm and saw through my own leg and all sorts of metaphorically wrenching things to find those lines of gunpowder. It’s work, it’s hard, and it’s stressful. So I’m pulling the book apart. I’m surfing the net and wandering around the house, and basically it’s existing above my head in some sort of multidimensional thing. It always looks like one of those expanding spheres they sell at science centers. It’s big, it’s crazy, and it’s where the story happens. It used to freak me out and make me feel like a failure, but now it feels like the midpoint. I’ll find the answer. In fact, I already got there this evening. (I didn’t let myself blog until I had the answer.) (I also had a marathon phone call. Multitasking!)

HOWEVER.

giphy-1At the same time I was sorting through that, I was also problem-solving the pain thing. I’ve been going to the chiropractor a lot, and now PT, but I’m doing this big pingpong thing where I go back and forth between progress and fuckery. Pretty much I’m in pain all the time. The other day Dan said, “You seem like you feel so much better now that you’re not in pain.” I blinked. “Um, no, I hurt [rattled off about seven things, some pretty severe] and I took a pile of pills. But yeah, I’m a lot better, and I feel great. I just hurt still.”

I’m worried about the pills, however, and now that I don’t feel like I”m being dragged sideways into a pit of tar, I’d like to hammer this shit in the head and get better. I’m ready to climb out of this pit with my teeth if necessary. It’s on, it’s happening, it’s here.

Except how that happens has been really fucking hard to sort out. Because let me tell you. Nobody in medicine, traditional or non-traditional, knows shit about pain. They sort of know how to alleviate it a bit, but it’s all palliative. They have ideas on how to get rid of it. But they don’t know. Nobody knows but the person suffering, and they’re in pain and it’s hard to focus. And they don’t know what they know. They really want someone to just tell them what to do.

I’ve been trying to get someone to tell me what to do for a month. I keep asking, and they keep giving me their best answers. I try their way, and it doesn’t work, so I try somebody else’s way. Hell, I keep trying my way, and my way sucks too. Nothing seems to work. And then today I went to my MD and said, “Hey, you want to double check all these pills I’m taking? It’s a lot. I mean, it’s a lot of pills. Got any ideas for pain management?”

He said, “Yes, I have ideas. I want you to try Cymbalta.”

He’s actually suggested this before, but Dan had him go with Effexor, and it sort of kind of worked, and then I went off it because I couldn’t really write well. And I’d forgotten that part, somehow. I’d also forgotten how many people I’ve talked to who can’t write a word on Cymbalta. This afternoon, though, I remembered, and I dithered over the prescription I’d asked Dan to fill. I freaked out all over the place. Twitter is my witness.

Here’s the problem: if I take Cymbalta and it kills my creativity, it will screw me up. I have not just the above book but another book due by the end of the year. I have a third book due Feb 1. The last one isn’t contracted, but the first two are. And I can do all if it, totally. Free of my endometrial sludge, I’m on fucking fire. All I need to be able to do is sit in a chair without pain and get this shit out. Hell, I solved a problem that usually takes me three weeks and 50k of overwriting in one goddamned afternoon. I’m all over this shit.

tumblr_m8j9knuxbj1r4s0jmExcept if I take Cymbalta, I might not be. It might be okay! It might not. It might shut me down. And it’s not like I can just say, “Oops, it’s shutting me down. Better not.” It takes weeks or even a month to get on it, and double and possibly triple that to get off. Translated, failing Cymbalta could take me the rest of the year.

This would cost me three books. Two contracted. This would cost me my slots next year in the production schedule. I’d have to break my word. I’d miss out on that income and make it harder for me to sell on spec in the future.

That Cymbalta is a very, very expensive pill.

So that’s why I’ve been a fucking freak about it all afternoon. On the one hand, it might save my life. It might let me sit in a chair AND keep my brain, and there might be rainbows and puppies and everything happy and amazing in the world. It might not do shit for pain, might fuck my brain, and cost me three novels. Big, big risk. Big. And there’s no way to know except try. So I have to decide, am I trying, or am I accepting what I have going on right now, which is admittedly not great?

Except there’s one thing I haven’t factored into my choice. Instinct.

I put the brakes on my story and pulled it apart because a heaping backlist of published books has taught me when I’ve taken the wrong turn. I know it by the smell and the way the scenes start to shape, or fail to. I know what tool to use to fix it. I’ve got it down. With the health stuff, I’ve had years and years of listening to my body, but I didn’t have access to the one part that was actually fucked, so I didn’t really know the answer. I horse-traded a lot of getting by, but in the end there was one fix I didn’t know I needed.

Now I’m not managing chronic pain, I’m trying to recover. There’s nothing wrong with me. I just need to strengthen. But I have a lot of ground to recover, and unless I want to go into a bubble, some of the things I try to do are basically hurting me. It’s a really hard line to ride.

giphy-2Every instinct I have lately is to run. I want to bolt down the street. Dance like a fool. I can’t–every time I try even a little bit, I get hurt. I have instinct then too. Not yet, something whispers. You need to go, but not yet. Every week I get a little stronger, and if I listen, really listen I can hear this far. Now stop. It’s an intensely delicate dance. I want to go, and that’s the push nudging me on, but I have to know when to yank back. It’s not unlike knowing where the characters are going and being excited for the story I know is there but using my smarts to slow down and do the thing right.

I was trying to do that with the Cymbalta thing, but fear kept getting in the way. In the same way as when I was more of a greenhorn I thought every fuck up meant not that I had work to do but that I was a big faking faker who sucked ass and not in the fun way. I’ve had instinct all week, but I keep slamming the door on it and asking other people. Smart people, even. They all mean well, and they’re giving me good things. But at the end of the day, this is my body, and they could have fifty degrees and not know it as well as I do.

My body is saying, go. Don’t walk for five minutes. Walk for twenty. Walk hard. Push. Go. Strengthen. Hurt a little, go a little too far, and recover. It’s saying not at all what anyone else is saying. It wants me to keep kosher with the gluten free and look at cutting out sugar again. It wants me to exercise, push, and go. Sometimes I catch myself inventing exercises, weird stretches in doorways and “yoga” positions on the floor. I start pacing back and forth or catching myself putting on tennis shoes and thinking about walking up the street. Not around the block. Through the neighborhood. But I’ve resisted, because everybody’s been telling me to go at this a different way.

In the same way I didn’t listen to anybody about outlines or synopses or flying by the seat of my pants, about writing without looking down or backing up–I need to do that with my body. Basically, anybody who tells me how to write gets a big smile and a fuck you very much. When I put a book out, it’s the best I can make that book at that time. Other people would write it differently, and they’re welcome to do that. I’m not going to please everyone all of the time, and that’s fine. But I am deliberate, and I know what I’m doing, and I’m one hundred percent driven by instinct. I’m very comfortable with it.

This afternoon, after paralyzing myself with fear of what to do about my health, I broke down and listened to my body. It said, “Put on your shoes and go. Walk hard, walk so fucking hard you lose your breath. Get a stitch in your side. Swing your arms. Fucking. Work. Go for at least twenty minutes. Go hard. Go really goddamned hard.” Figuring the only thing I had to lose was my Friday, I did it.

You know where this is going.

My body was right. That instinct was one hundred percent on. I didn’t need Cymbalta. I needed to move and to push. Did it fix everything? No. Am I in pain right now? Yes. But it’s manageable, and if I go walk, gently this time, it’ll feel good again. I haven’t taken any pills since this morning, so this is me without meds. I’m finding other ways to keep the pain manageable while I work on strengthening. In fact during this post I’ve shifted several times, gotten up once, and keep doing these cat-hunches and shoulder rolls in my chair. I also roll my hips and flex my glutes. Every time I do, it’s like I’m shaking off pain scales. It’s not all gone, but it’s less.

tumblr_lxer3wb4Ub1r3ovdbo1_500I can’t say I won’t take the Cymbalta. Dan filled the prescription, and it’s going to sit on my shelf. I may put it on my desk. It’s going to be my adversary, the thing I don’t want to do but have to if I don’t listen to my instinct. I may end up having to take it, because instinct isn’t infallible. But I’m going to try not to, because I don’t want to risk what i don’t need to, and also because I’d really like to win this on my own.

If you’re fighting chronic pain, a manuscript, or something else–listen to yourself, or learn to. This is actually a theme of my life, that while it would sure be nice for a fairy godmother to show up and make everything okay, usually you have to build your own carriage and cobble your own shoe. And it’s better that way. More work, yes, but not only is what you make just right for you, you also have the satisfaction of pointing at that pumpkin and saying, “I made that, bitches.”

I’m going to make myself. I’m getting my goddamned body back. I don’t need to look like I’m twenty. I’d settle for feeling better at forty than I did through my thirties, because basically that decade most fifty and sixty year olds outran me. I’m gonna do it, just like I’m gonna hit all my deadlines, and early.

I’ve just got this feeling it’s all gonna work out–and I’m going to listen to that feeling. All day long.

Library Contest Winners: EVERYBODY GETS NEW BOOKS

Last night at 8:30 the library contest closed, and there were ten entries. Many of the entrants were actual librarians, which is awesome, and the others were people carefully curating for their library. According to the original contest, half of those libraries should win a package of my books and some books of other LGBT and ally authors.

Except I really, really love libraries. I couldn’t be THAT CLOSE and not give all the librarians who entered some books. I had enough donations from other authors to make ten meager packages, which would be fine, except I wanted MORE. So I went begging on Twitter and Facebook, and now we have fabulousness.

EVERYBODY WHO ENTERED GETS TO WIN.

The winning libraries are:

  • Blue Island Public Library, Blue Island, Illinois
  • Borgarbókasafnið, Reykjavík, Iceland
  • Farmington Community Library, Farmington Hills, Michigan
  • Fayette County Public Library, Oak Hill, West Virginina
  • Tigard City Library, Tigard Oregon
  • Troy Public Library, Troy, Michicagn
  • SUNY Potsdam College Library, Potsdam, New York
  • Columbia Public Library, Columbia, Missouri
  • Waterford Township Public Library, Waterford, Michigan
  • Milwaukee LGBT Community Center Library, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Authors donating prizes:

  • Heidi Cullinan
  • Damon Suede
  • Z.A. Maxfield
  • Amy Lane
  • Tara Lain
  • Kate McMurray
  • Larissa Brown
  • Vivian Arend
  • Eden Bradley
  • Kate Rothwell
  • Megan Mulry
  • Lex Chase
  • Ava Penn
  • Amy Jo Cousins
  • Leta Blake

Authors, if I missed you (we were all flying in ten directions last night, so sorry), leave a comment or email me and I’ll add you to the list.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.

The LGBT reading community is full of fabulousness, and when I said I needed books, a number of READERS and bloggers said they’d donate too. Here are the reader and blogger library super heroes:

  • Leslie Bradner
  • Kelly Taylor
  • Jillian Stein
  • Beth Bellanca
  • Birte Tamm

If I dropped your name, tell me and I’ll add you. If you want in on the fun, let me know and I’ll hook you up. ANYBODY can donate books. 

ETA: Riptide Publishing will also be donating some titles!

Are you a library and you missed out? Talk to me.

Because of this last minute activity, it really will be the end of the month before I send anything. Just keep me posted as to where you’re at.

THANK YOU, everyone! You’re all awesome. Off to email the libraries now…

5s

 

The book you need right now: Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews

Scroll through my Twitter feed Friday evening from about 5 until 9 on September 5, and you will see me freaking the fuck out over a book. This is the book.

A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews

a-forbidden-rumspringa-web-copy-1

In a world where every detail of life—down to the width of a hat brim—is dictated by God and the all-powerful rules of the community, two men dare to imagine a different way. At 18, Isaac Byler knows little outside the strict Amish settlement of Zebulon, Minnesota, where there is no rumspringa for exploration beyond the boundaries of their insular world. Isaac knows he’ll have to officially join the church and find a wife before too long, but he yearns for something else—something he can’t name.

Dark tragedy has left carpenter David Lantz alone to support his mother and sisters, and he can’t put off joining the church any longer. But when he takes on Isaac as an apprentice, their attraction grows amid the sweat and sawdust. David shares his sinful secrets, and he and Isaac struggle to reconcile their shocking desires with their commitment to faith, family and community.

Now that they’ve found each other, are they willing to lose it all?


 

I’ve been seeing this book around, and I gotta tell you, I was saying no. Because I could think of eight million ways this setup could go horribly, terribly wrong. Having grown up in a family full of pastors and living near two different Amish communities in my life, one the Amish/Mennonite megahub that is Kalona, Iowa, I know Amish, well, and while I don’t wish to join their lifestyle, I have deep, intense respect for it and their right to live how they wish to. I also know how a gay Amish man would be received, that there’s a lot we wouldn’t expect in both the accepting and non-accepting departments. I feared a lot of over-angst. I feared  slipshod research, over sentimentalization and basically an exploitation of a community. For no other reason than that’s what I’ve seen when I’ve read Amish romances, far too many times. And if the respect was there, how could there be an HEA? I mean, really? I couldn’t work it out. I feared obvious conflicts and all kinds of things bad.  I thought, this is stupid, I can’t read this book. There’s no way.

But I caved and read the Amazon sample. The moment on the barn beam hooked me. Hard. I saw the price and thought, okay. I’ll bite.

I will stand here now, hat in hand and say, not a single fear was realized. Not one. It is full of research and respect and knowledge and FULL understanding. It is not over-angsted. It is fucking hot, while not being gauche given the subject matter. It ends happily, but I swear to god, at 93 fucking percent complete, I still wasn’t sure. I really, really worried. I couldn’t imagine how. And when it was done, I exhaled with those best of breaths. The ones where you know everything is okay, and you made it, they made it, EVERYBODY FUCKING MADE IT and the sun will come up tomorrow, and two boys will be happily snuggled in a corner of it somewhere.

I needed this book. This month has been surgical recovery, too many books, too many decisions, too much everything. This week ended with me feeling weird and overwhelmed for reasons both identifiable and not. I’ve become very, very picky lately, hating almost everything I read. I wanted so much to love this book, but it could not have me cheaply. It had me. It caught me, made me, took me up to the stars and let me run. 

No, it’s not fancy, and that’s why I like it. It’s sweet, delightful. It made me sigh and freak out and worry and basically let go. If I still haven’t sold you and you like my stuff, and you read Love Lessons? This is Walter and Kelly go Amish. I mean, not really. But it is, in its way. Those archetypes. 

And this was self published. She did this all herself and the team she hired. Hot. Damn.

Just fucking go buy it. Read it. Do it. Five goddamned fucking stars. I’m not normally one for sequels post HEA, but I’m totally down for this one. I’m all the hell over it.

grinning

 


 

Buy Links

Amazon • All Romance ebooks • Barnes & Noble • Goodreads • iTunes • Smashwords

Ms. Andrews’s website

 

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