Q. How many novels do you normally have going at one time? Do you switch off writing them?
A. The answer to this question is different almost every month or so.
When I first started writing, it took me three months to write my book. I might have written an hour a day, sometimes more, sometimes less, and then I rewrote them for months. That was the way I wrote my first three books. I had musings and plots and character sketches written for other books, but I focused on one at a time.
Now, I usually have three-four books at various stages. I tend to focus on one more than the others… but not always.
Right now, I am 95% done with Bluegrass Boys #2, I have started the sequel to A Very Merry Princemas, I have Sean Azinsalt’s next book almost finished at 75%, and I have started turning my Ginger In The City short stories into a novel. I have a couple other stories with some chapters finished and the plot and characters sketched out.
I write each book differently and a lot of it depends on what I have going on in my life at the time.
Q. Do you normally find images to represent characters as motivation?
A. Oh yeah! I have a folder on my desktop of images I have found from all over the internet. Celebrities, models, singers, actors, Instagram influencers. I find it helps me to pin pictures to my bulleting board by my desk to use for inspiration and description. I do the same thing for cities, places, buildings, etc.
My husband hates my wall of hotness! I love it!
Q. How you do find character names?
A. I keep a list and whenever I hear a name I like; I jot it down. I have discovered Broadway performers are a great place to scout for names. Models always have exotic and fun names too. I love and use drag queens in a lot of my novels and as a former drag entertainer, I have made a list of fabulous and original drag names. The hardest thing to do is listen to the character to find out which name on the list is theirs!
I also try not to use the same name between books, because most of my novels exist in the same world and I could always use a character form one of them in my next book. That is hard.
Q. In what space do you normally write? (room, desk, bed, couch, Starbucks?)
A. I prefer to write at home. I tried going to coffee shops and wound up talking to people instead of writing. Why do people in LA see you at a table writing and decide that is the best time to come and talk to you? Most of them are actors and they wonder what script I am working on.
I live in a townhouse, and I write upstairs at the desk or in my dining room. I’m not someone who enjoys quiet. I actually hate it. So, when my husband is watching TV, I write in the dining room next to him with my dog, Bette Davis, lying at my feet.
Since the pandemic hit, I have been writing downstairs almost exclusively. Being in isolation with the hubby has brought out both of our creative sides. We have been near each other all day, watching TV, working, talking- that by seven that evening, I usually pour a glass of wine and sit down to work. Here lately I’ve been writing or re-writing for about six hours every night.
Q. How do you go about pulling yourself out of a writing slump?
A. It depends. Sometimes, I know I have to let myself have that slump and not write. Batteries need to recharge and sometimes you just need to turn everything off. The characters and plots still circle in my head and I start being mean to myself about taking that time for myself.
To get out of it, I force myself to write. I don’t care if its good or bad- it’s words and I will fix them later. Sometimes word crap is better than sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself. That usually works for me. After a few days, I find my groove again.
There have been other times, that I don’t listen to myself and I want to finish the book I had planned. After a couple days of forcing it, I stop and put that book away. Sometimes I go back to it, and sometimes I never do. But when a book really wants to be written, you have to listen to the muse and focus on that book.
Q. How do you deal with negative reviews on one of your books?
A. I don’t. I know I have some, but reviews aren’t for me. My accomplishment and medal is the fact that I wrote it, and felt good enough about the book, that I sent it out into the world.
Reviews are an opinion. Everyone has one. I read a book recently that some friends of mine were raving about. I didn’t get it. Hated it, actually. So, I don’t let someone’s opinion of my art get me down. When I see it, I just shrug and move on. HOWEVER, sometimes there is a nugget in that review. Something that when you read it… You go- shit. That’s something I want to work on. I see it as a valid learning opportunity.
I am very zen. I was a stage actor and playwright for fifteen years before I started writing novels. I have had two reviewers come to the same performance and give me and the show a rave review and another say they fell asleep and I sounded like I had sucked in helium before the show. LOL!
I appreciate anyone who takes the time to leave one, though. I find that most readers don’t leave reviews so when someone does, I am very thankful. It resonated with them in some way, good or bad enough, for them to take that time.
Q. If you were going to step out of your comfort zone, what might you try writing?
A. That’s a very hard question. I write under two pen names and am about to start a third. Shane writes Hallmark(ish) MM Romance and Mystery. Sean Azinsalt writes Dark and Kinky books that dip into paranormal and horror. My new pen name is writing LGBT YA.
But I started writing sci-fi and fantasy when I was in high school, and it was really my gateway words to being a writer. I would love to try my hand at doing that sometime soon. I just know that the first book will take me a ling time to finish, because that type of world building isn’t a muscle I have used in a long time. Dark elves and magic… maybe. Swords and sorcery, a magical curse spreading over the land.
Questions from readers
Q. How long do you see your current series going?
A. I’ll assume your talking about The Point Pleasant Holiday Series. I just released the 6th book, Another Opening Another Showmance. I had originally planned 3 more PP books this year. I have recently decided that I needed a small break from it. So, I am writing a Thanksgiving and Christmas book in the series this year. That will be 8…
The thing I love about those books, is the same thing I love about the Hallmark and Lifetime Holiday movies. I could keep it going forever. I’m not… LOL!
I see another 4 Pleasant books in 2021, so it will be a total of 12.
I’ve considered opening the series up to new writers after that. We will see.
Q. I love the "hallmark esque" low drama insta love troupe. But do you do any heavy angst stuff?
A. Yes! Read Sean Azinsalt’s books. They are full of drama, death and sex.
Private Waterloos, is a coming of age book (not romance- the antitheses if it) that is very angsty. Year of the Cock is full of anger and pain.
But I have some fairly angsty stuff coming out in 2021. A couple new series that I am very excited about. One of the books is already finished and waiting… 2021 will see a healthy mix of Hallmark(ish) and heavier reads.
I think Bluegrass Boys is more angsty. At least #2 is.
Q. What is your favorite trope to read?
A. Great question! I love the hidden prince trope. It’s my favorite TV romance trope too. I also love gay for you, first time, and I have started reading a lot of Mpreg. I’m fascinated by it. Drea Roman really made me a fan of the genre.
Q. How many books do you see in the Blue Grass Boy series?
A. Thanks for asking that question! It has become my favorite books to write, and book 2 is maybe… my favorite romance that I’ve written yet. It’s called Sweet Tea and Sympathy, and it is angsty, hot and geeky.
I will release Book 2 and 3 this year, then 3 more in 2021. That’s the plan, anyway. Who knows, book #1 has been really popular, so… there could be more.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about the new Bluegrass Boys series?
A. YES! I really wanted to write this and I started it late last year, but decided to focus on The Point Pleasant Series first. I am from Kentucky, originally. I cam from a very small town, where there were more churches per capita than anything else in the whole county. Those churches had a lot of power in my community. Growing up as a gay boy in that area was quite difficult, but I discovered there were a lot of us in the redneck closet.
I wanted to write a series about Kentucky boys who got a chance to start living their authentic lives when they moved away from home and went to college. The college I attended was only 30 minutes away from my home town, but it may as well have been another world. I wanted to capture that in these books.
In Kentucky- Sports are King! Elementary through college, jocks were the alphas and entire communities knew the names of all the players. High school arenas are just as large as college stadiums, because that’s how important sports are to each community. It’s crazy.
So, Bluegrass Boys is about rednecks, geeks, and jocks falling in love as they explore their own sexuality. They are more angsty than my Point Pleasant books, and seem to be getting angstier! LOL! I love that college is a place where all of these communities are forced together and intermingle. A lot can happen on a college campus! And my Bluegrass Boys have a wild ride ahead of them. Book #2 comes out later this month.
I love the titles for these. Getting’ Lucky in Kentucky, Sweet Tea and Sympathy, A Jock on a Hot Tin Roof.