Since I managed not to sleep much last night, effectively making writing or any other endeavor more complicated than feeding my pie difficult, I thought I’d post a few updates.
My short story, “The Advent Calendar,” will be released by MLR Press on November 27, 2011. By happy coincidence, this is the first Sunday in Advent.
Toby wants children, Derek doesn’t, and this just might end their ten-year relationship. But will a near-brush with death help them set aside their differences to focus on what matters most?
Toby wanted children more than anything, and it bothered Derek to see the man he’d fallen in love with so down, but it also made him feel defensive, as if he, Derek, were personally responsible for the other man’s unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Whenever the subject came up, Derek felt torn between comforting Toby and rolling his eyes. Lately, it seemed like rolling his eyes won, and didn’t that just make him feel like a prime, Grade-A jerk?
But every time Toby started mooning on about the pitter-patter of little feet, all he could do was wonder just when it was Toby had been infected with the baby rabies. Symptoms included feelings of vague yearning, elevated levels of sentimentality, and otherwise inexplicable trips to Baby Gap.
The real danger of baby rabies, Derek thought darkly as he climbed down the ladder, was its communicability to those closest to the primary victim. The entire subject made him feel like dirt. He loved Toby more than anything. Was what they had not enough? Was he not meeting Toby’s needs? The idea hurt to think about, and made him feel worse than he already did these days.
Later that night, after perfunctory lovemaking, Derek lay awake, Toby snoring softly beside him. The rest of their evening had been pleasant enough, both of them backing away from the subject, an intricate dance of avoidance and unvoiced recriminations, neither saying what he really wanted or meant.
They were together, alone.
I’ll be making a round of blog tours in late November and December to promote the story, so look for links and cross postings to come.
On other fronts, Rocking the Boat and Tipping the Balance seem to be selling well, and that’s always nice.
Work continues well on The Answer To His Prayers, my current work in progress. I may re-title it, First Impressions since that’s a closer reflection of the story. Putting it briefly, it’s a gay riff on Pride and Prejudice. Since I seem to be getting a reputation for telling sweet stories with hot sex, hopefully it’ll be more of the same. Once I’ve got the first draft completed, I’ll post an excerpt here and there to tantalize.
Here are some updates on various things.
First all, I apologize to anyone who went to find me last Saturday. The chat on Facebook lasted all of about ten minutes and consisted almost entirely of me frantically communicating with Dreamspinner’s social-media boffin about just why exactly it was that I couldn’t post anything, then about where the page had gone. She didn’t know, either.
So yeah, I managed to kill off DSP’s Facebook fan page. Apparently my powers are growing. Everyone has one special skill. I once thought that mine was to find barcodes that wouldn’t scan at the supermarket. Without fail, every week when I do the marketing I find at least one item that doesn’t show up no matter how many times the clerk waves it over the scanner.
But no more. I’m unsure, however, whether this superpower applies only to Facebook, which would be cool enough, give its creepy privacy policies, or whether or not with a little effort and a can-do spirit, I might be able to take out other, more objectionable webpages. I’d explore the issue but when you boil it down, I’m really pretty lazy. I mean, there’s a reason I’m a writer: too lazy to work, too anxious to turn to a life of crime.
Amos Lassen posted the first review of Rocking the Boat, and definitely liked the book. I won’t reprint the whole things, but a few choice snipets are in order.
“Rocking the Boat” is the first thing I have read by Christopher Koehler and he is off to a wonderful literary beginning.
I will…tell you that the characters that Koehler creates are wonderfully fleshed out and real and the writing is excellent. I could not help be reminded a bit of Patricia Nell Warren’s “The Front Runner”.
It is great fun discovering new writers and I have a feeling we will be hearing more from Christopher Koehler so keep him on your periscope.
To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about the comparison with The Frontrunner. I mean, it’s flattering, don’t get me wrong. I just feel like Warren’s book is such a classic that there’s no way my little confection could equal that.
It’s also a lot to live up to. Not to jinx anything, but people’s whose freshman efforts receive nothing but laurels tend to produce sucky sophomore efforts. I’m aiming for a sustained writing career, obviously, and not a flash in the pan. See above statement about laziness and crime.
I also wonder about The Frontrunner’s relevance anymore. When it was published, it was a big deal, an early positive depiction of gay characters, gay athletes in particular. Like The Best Little Boy in the World, it’s classic work that every well-read reader of gay fiction needs to have at least glanced at. But in this day and age, LGTB people are well represented in the media, and there are many (nonporn) webpages devoted to gay athletes. It’s a different world, and I’d like to think, a better one. It’s that change, however, that turns critical works into classics that no one reads.
On other but related fronts, I’ve received my first responses from readers. People I don’t know, I mean. They’ve liked it. So here’s a shout-out to Brian and Rachel and Ami!
So yeah, I’ve already had my own little Sally Field moment.
And speaking of reviews, there’ve been reader reviews published on Goodreads. Okay, one review, one that seems to consist of someone duplicating the number of stars he or she gave me with keyboard characters. I’m not complaining. It was a 4-star review.
I’m not quite sure what to make of Goodreads. I’ve no complaints with the reviews, including and especially the one that let me know I adequately addressed the biggest fear I had about RTB’s reception, namely the fact that a coach’s involvement with an athlete could be viewed as predation. Is viewed, in fact, by pretty much all the appropriate regulatory bodies governing sport. I think I covered the reasons for this pretty well in the book, given that Nick’s prone to gnawing his guts out.
But I won this reviewer, a former teacher, over. After all, Morgan’s an adult, and as he pointed out to Nick, he has agency, too.
That said, Goodread’s policy about reviewing/rating a book makes no sense to me—you don’t have to have read the book because to require that would be “censorship.” No joke. It is not, apparently, censorship, however, to require authors agree to not engage reviewers.
I can understand that. Writers are notoriously thin-skinned, and the temptation to “correct” either factual errors about the book or rebut a negative review overwhelms some of us. For the record, I don’t think engaging someone who wrote a negative review is a good idea, and I don’t plan to do it unless it’s a point I hadn’t thought of, or if it is and I have specific reasons for writing what I did. But we shall see.
Anyway, reviews are readers’ opinions, no more and no less, no matter how ill-informed…or positive and glowing.
This reminds of the review policy of the American Historical Review, the premier journal for academic history in the US. Only those who’ve written books review them, the logic being that only authors understand the frankly arduous process of constructing a narrative that makes sense. I’ll avoid going into my pet theories of text and the construction of a story, but suffice it to say a novel is an unwieldy thing that at times fights its creator’s attempts to impose his or her structure on it.
This is totally unworkable with fiction, of course, and even more undesirable. The whole point of fiction is to reach a comparatively large audience, not just the small world of one’s fellow authors. Talk about a circle jerk. But just how does requiring the reading a book before posting a review constitute censorship?
Actually, writers aim not only to reach, but hopefully engage with a larger audience, and not everyone will love you. It’s an important lesson to learn, and not just for writers.
I received the color sketch for the cover art last night. I love it love it love it! I think Paul did a fantastic job of capturing the characters. Somehow they’re even more real than they were before. I know I created them and that they’re basically figments of my imagination and my subconscious, because of just that, characters really do take on a life of their own, and seeing them actualized in color drawings only intensifies that in a way the b&w didn’t.
Of course, I’m now more anxious than ever about the release. February 28 can’t get here fast enough.