Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hey, Auckland, What Up?

A week from today I’ll be in Auckland, kicking off a two and a half month trip around New Zealand. For the next few days I’m in Chicago and San Francisco (fingers crossed I get to go to the Folsom Street Fair!), gearing up. I’m pretty excited. And a little nervous. “Just show up with a backpack and a work visa and see what happens” sounded like a much more romantic idea when I was booking the plane ticket months ago. Now that my departure date is nigh, some practical concerns are starting to crop up, like, “Where will I sleep?” and “Oops, I already spilled stuff on one of only two pairs of pants I have with me.” (I spent twenty minutes locked in a bathroom stall at Union Station this morning trying to clean my jeans with facial wipes. This does not bode well.)

I also did something scary. I left my laptop at home. Shouldn’t be a big deal, right? But I spend pretty much every day with that computer. Mostly writing, but sometimes caressing it and talking to it gently. Sometimes watching the most emotional X Factor auditions on youtube. Some nights it sleeps in bed next to me, and I fancy I can hear it whisper “goodnight” as we drift off to sleep.

In short, I think we need a break from each other.

I don’t want to spend my whole trip looking at a screen. The part of me that’s used to living that way does, but I think when I actually give not doing it a try, I’ll like it. After all, I used to do other things besides text, type, and stream television. I just can't remember exactly what.

I wrote by hand in a notebook today, and it was weird, but it reminded me that there was actually a time before I had a laptop. Also it made my hand hurt.

I can do this. I sort of believe in myself a little.

I’m posting this now from a friend’s computer. And then I’m gonna go see if his building has a laundry facility for my jeans. And I’m not going to think about my laptop, because I AM FINE WITHOUT YOU. DO YOU HEAR ME? I AM MY OWN PERSON. I DON’T EVEN PARTICULARLY LIKE THE WAY YOUR SEARCH FUNCTIONS ARE SET UP.

Also, um, I'm kind of cheating, because the lovely Lori Toland lent me an iPhone to use on the trip, despite my thorough and repeated warnings that the odds are very much in favor of me 1) not being able to figure out how it works and 2) dropping it. So when I get fierce urges to see if anything has happened on the Internet without me, I'll probably just whip that out.

Baby steps.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Blushin' and the Flushin' (and Better Ways to Say It)

I stumbled across this blog post the other day by Nichole Steinhaus at YA Stands, and I like it a lot. It tackles an issue that seems especially relevant to romance writing, where characters' body language and body parts play such an important role, and where writers frequently end up with a whole lot of eyebrows raised, eyes narrowing or widening, sweating palms, racing hearts, quirking lips, blushing, flushing (I have a feeling a combined Blush n' Flush count from all of my books would look disturbingly like the Oh My count in 50 Shades of Grey), flipping stomachs, and so on.

Definitely read the actual post, because Nichole explains this concept better than I will. But the gist of it is that characters physical actions can tell us a lot more about their emotions than those worn out descriptions of body parts. She cites a couple of examples from John Greene's YA novel Looking for Alaska, one where MC Miles has to share a bed with the girl he likes, and instead of saying I lay there with my palms sweating and my heart racing and a furious flush creeping to my cheeks, etc., Miles tells us: "We had separate blankets, and there were never fewer than three layers between us, but the possibilities kept me up half the night."

And bam, without any description of what his body parts are up to, we know exactly how Miles must feel. He is lying there under a separate blanket, and he is staying up half the night fantasizing about this girl. His heart, his lungs, his sweat--they're not running the show.

So I'm making that my writer challenge from this point forward, to call myself out on tired body part descriptors and see what my characters can do to let you know how they're feeling. Spoiler alert: the possibilities will probably keep them up the first half of the night, and the violent fucking will keep them up the second.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I have a website now. And a book update. And blackmail photos.

At last, a triumph over technology. Or at least, a vague demonstration of my ability to warily coexist with it. I have an actual website over at www.jarockauthor.com! Ooooh, fancy. And there's a half naked guy in ropes! Seriously, go visit just to see my naked guy.

I'll keep this blog up and running for a little while still, mostly because I'm afraid of change. But I'll try to de-clutter the sidebar, since all of that information is now in one centralized, relatively organized location. Perhaps eventually the blog will move to the website as well. But figuring that out is a lot to ask of me at the moment.

Also I chose the theme partly because of my love of the song "Rainbow in the Dark." "Don't tell anyone that," my mom suggested. But I'm not even remotely ashamed of my Dio infatuation.

Next up: Lisa Henry and I have a contract on THE BOY WHO BELONGED, our sequel to THE GOOD BOY! No date yet, but here's the unofficial blurb:

Twenty-one year-old Lane Moredock finally has a normal life. Six months after he was wrongly made a suspect in his parents’ Ponzi scheme, he’s settled down with his older boyfriend, Derek, and is working and attending school. But his happiness is threatened when his mother launches a Christmastime PR campaign to help appeal her prison sentence, and asks introverted Lane to be part of it.

Derek Fields has his hands full taking Santa photos, bird-sitting his sister’s foul-mouthed macaw, and helping Lane prepare for a television interview neither of them wants him to do. As he eases Lane through his anxiety, he worries that Lane sees him as a caretaker rather than a boyfriend, and that their age difference really does matter. He and Lane compensate for the stress in their lives by taking their D/s relationship to new levels--a relationship that Lane’s mother insists he should be ashamed of.

As Christmas draws nearer, the pressure builds. Pushy elves. Snarky subs. A bad fight. A parrot in peril. How the hell is Derek going to give Lane a perfect Christmas when the Moredock legacy threatens to pull them apart before the new year?

We had a lot of fun with this book. It turned out a little angstier than the idea we'd originally discussed. Which should come as no surprise. Get ready to see Mr. Zimmerman like you've never...okay, pretty much exactly as you've seen him before. Rude and angry.

In other news, props to my best friend Brian, who got his picture taken with the Westboro Baptist people (same church that protested Matthew Shepard's funeral, among lots of other anti-gay protests) when they came to New Orleans to protest Southern Decadence. When one of the protestors told Brian "YOU ARE FULL OF SIN," Brian shot back, "YOU ARE FULL OF HATE." Wish I could have been there, but I'll settle for loving this picture from over here.

Finally, I received this in an e-mail from a longtime friend the other day. No text, just the word "Proof" in the subject line. This was taken four years ago in (I think) the Netherlands--though I was unaware of its existence. Yeah, there might have been signs that I was heading toward writing what I write now. Who doesn't love a surprise blackmail photo?