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Yes, I’m still here, and still writing

This blog has been quiet for a very long time, which I didn’t intend.  There’s actually been quite a lot going on.  Unfortunately, most of it has been under the pseudonym I use for adult novels—one novel wrapped up, and two short stories.  I’ve also been doing a little plotting for another novel idea, but I won’t go into that just yet.

I attended the first Rainbow Con this April, which was terrific.  Next year looks to be even larger and more fun.  Unfortunately, I came into contact with a family of sick, coughing children on the plane and came down with something like strep throat immediately after the con. That laid me up for weeks, even with heavy antibiotics, and unfortunately prevented me from attending the Harmony Ink  workshop this year.  But they mailed me my “swag” and several authors wrote nice notes to me inside a notebook, which reminded me what a wonderful bunch of authors we have.

eau-douce-marsIn the meantime, as a favor to a mutual friend, a mainstream agent agreed to look at the first three chapters and synopsis of Martian Born—not to represent it, but simply to give me some feedback about whether it would be marketable as a mainstream YA novel.  Unfortunately, though I was told it was nicely written and absorbing, it wasn’t very fresh.  Since I began working on the novel, several YA novels about Martian colonies have come out, such as the best-selling Red Rising.

That sort of thing is always depressing to a writer.  We come up with what we think must be an original idea, because we haven’t seen it anywhere or been able to find similar novels with searches.  Then, while we’re working on our masterpiece, a bunch of books hit the shelves with the same theme.

In most cases, this has nothing to do with people copying from one another.  But we all see the same news articles going by, we’re all observers of popular culture, so we tend to come up with similar ideas at the same time.  Mars has been in the news a lot in recent years, and there has been a lot of talk about establishing a Martian colony, so of course a number of authors start thinking about that as a good basis for a story.  From that point, certain things click into place for all of us—dust storms, two moons, sub-zero temperatures, water frozen into the soil.  Some of us will go in one direction, some in another.  My story is, as far as I can tell, more scientifically accurate than a number of the stories on the market now, but that’s not an enormous selling point.  Neither is a gay protagonist, from a mainstream perspective.

However, from my perspective, a gay protagonist is an enormous difference that sets my story apart from others.  So I intend to finish it.  Even if it the most original novel to come out this year or next, I’m still convinced it’s a good novel.  It’s worth finishing, and I think it will be worth reading.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2014 in Gay, Romance, Sci-fi, Work in Progress, Writing, YA

 

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An interview with Maliha from Beloved Pilgrim by Christopher Hawthorne Moss

Today we’re featuring a new novel release by author Christopher Hawthorne MossBeloved Pilgrim, from Harmony Ink Press.

The blurb for the novel is at the bottom of the post, but first, and interview with one of the main characters:  Maliha, the love interest of Elias.

Maliha is the daughter of a Turkish woman whose Greek lover had abandoned her.  She used to live in a Turkish village but married a Turkish man named Yukop in an arranged marriage.  Yukop has been away fighting alongside Kilij Arslan, and may be dead at this point.  Maliha lives with her son Taceetin and her harridan mother-in-law in the street of the laundresses outside the city gates of Constantinople.  There she is forced to work as an “entertainer” in Andronikos’ villa, serving the male guests of Andronikos.

Elias is enthralled by Maliha from the start but cannot reveal himself.  When Maliha is fired for not fitting in, Elias goes to fetch her back.   It is then that the kiss Maliha mentions below takes place.  Maliha follows Elias back to the villa she, where she persuades Elias’s squire to let her into his room while he is bathing.

The rest is, as they say, historical fiction.

Interview:

Did you realize that the man you knew as Elias had a female body?

Not until we kissed at my husband’s mother’s hut.  You see, I had raised my hands to push him back when I saw he meant to force me.  My palms pressed on his breast, or should I say breasts.  Even through his clothing I knew those were the breasts of a woman.  That’s why I kissed him back.

You prefer women?

Yes.  I discovered this when I was a younger girl and spent time with her at her home.  We got up to all sorts of mischief, including in her bed.  In my culture, such relations are overlooked, so long as we marry and have children.  I was married and knew I had not at all liked the rough handling of my husband.   When I felt Elias’s breasts it was such a wonderful memory

Then what did you think when Elias told you that he was a man in his heart and mind?  Did you believe him?

My Elias would never lie to me.

Could he not have been mistaken?

That is not something one makes mistakes about.  I trust him to tell the truth and also to know the truth.

So you were still attracted to him?

Oh yes, of course.  I loved his woman’s body, but I had the companionship of a man in the same person.  I have more than any woman such as I could ever hope for.  And he is a man inside, I know, but he is a wise and good man.  And he loves me and my little boy.

The Blurb for Beloved Pilgrim:

At the time of the earliest Crusades, young noblewoman Elisabeth longs to be the person she’s always known is hidden inside. When her twin brother perishes from a fever, Elisabeth takes his identity to live as a man, a knight. As Elias, he travels to the Holy Land, to adventure, passion, death, and a lesson that honor is sometimes found in unexpected places.

Elias must pass among knights and soldiers, survive furious battle, deadly privations, moral uncertainty, and treachery if he’ll have any chance of returning to his newfound love in the magnificent city of Constantinople.

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

2nd Edition

1st edition by Nan Hawthorne published by Shieldwall Books, February 2011

 
 

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A computer game about a teenage girl coming to terms with her sexuality

I just finished playing an indie game from The Fullbright Company called Gone Home and it’s worth mentioning on this blog, because of the subject matter.  Basically, you (the main character — Katie) come home in the middle of the night from a trip to Europe.  You’ve been gone a year.  You discover the house locked up and nobody home, with an ominous note from your younger sister, Sam, stuck to the front door warning you not to tell anybody what you find inside.

As you make your way through the house, you discover more notes, pictures, receipts, music tapes, and sticky notes from your sister and your parents that eventually help you piece together what happened not only during the past year, but also during the years you were away at college.  The atmosphere is creepy and you keep expecting to find a corpse or something equally horrifying in one of the rooms.

I don’t want to give too much away, but what you find is basically a love story between Sam and her female best friend in high school, as they discover how they really feel about each other.  The parents are less than understanding, and there are problems at school, among other things trying to pull them apart.  There is a sense of foreboding as you wind your way through to uncover the final outcome, hidden behind the locked attic door….

This doesn’t really meet my definition of a game.  It’s interactive — you pick up things and examine them, and you uncover combinations to locked cabinets, and find keys to locked rooms — but you’re a ghost (figuratively) in the house.  You can’t change anything that’s happened.  You’re just uncovering it.  And you can’t affect the outcome of the “game.”

So it’s more of an interactive story.  This has sparked outrage among gamers, especially those delightfully misogynistic gamers who think the entire idea of Gone Home is stupid and pointless.  My favorite recurring quote is “It’s been done better.”

Really?  Where?

On the other hand, I’ve come across an accusation that the game is kind of a “bait and switch,” and that does have some validity.  I think the biggest problem is that everything is just too creepy.  The designers played that aspect up a lot and it builds expectations the game really doesn’t deliver on.  You stumble across journal entries about a ghost in the house, about the possibility that the previous owner went insane.  You find ouija boards and other occult paraphernalia.  The father seems to have been struggling with his writing career, and you wonder just how stable the guy was. All of these things lead you to expect some kind of horrific revelation, and… well, you might be disappointed in that regard.

However, as a story, I would still recommend the game.  It’s short, and people have pointed out that it probably isn’t worth $20 for the amount of game play.  So perhaps it would be good to wait for the price to drop.

You can purchase the game through Steam or the game website:  http://www.gonehomegame.com/

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Games, Gay, Romance, YA

 

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What I’m working on now: Martian Born

It’s been a few months since the release of Gods.  And for a short time, I had no idea what my next YA novel would be.  I had a few ideas, but nothing was really grabbing my interest.  But I’ve finally begun work on a novel called Martian Born.

541357_348120215250387_100001572338413_925791_325767953_nMartian Born is about a young man named Dylan Rivera, who has the distinction of being the first human being born on Mars.  By the time the story starts, Dylan is seventeen, and the colony has been on the planet for twenty years.  The picture I’ve linked to at the top of this post is actually a concept painting for the Mars One project, a non-profit endeavor to place a human colony on Mars within the next twenty years.  My story isn’t based on Mars One, and it isn’t about the early days of establishing the colony—a fascinating story in itself—and Dylan’s colony doesn’t look like the picture.  But the picture gives the right impression.

In Dylan’s world, there are two colonies, established by different political entities on Earth who have a very tense relationship.  Due to this, the colonies are forbidden to communicate with each other.

However, a group of teenagers from the rival colony, led by a youth named Timur Krasnov, attempt to steal equipment from Anvesaka Colony.  Dylan and his friends stop them, but this incident causes the colonies to finally come into contact.  And when Dylan uncovers the truth about conditions at Huozhing Colony, and how close they are to collapse, he convinces Timur that they need to work together to stave off disaster, despite Earth politics.

Of course, there is also a romance thread between Dylan and Timur.

iYmta2AWBJ9k3When I was a teenager, I devoured the YA novels (at the time, they were called “juveniles”) written by Robert Anson Heinlein.  They were a bit preachy by today’s standards, full of his political ideals and morality.  As an adult, I find myself questioning a lot of his assumptions, but still respecting Heinlein’s intelligence, and overall decency.  He also made an attempt—unusual for a science fiction author of his generation—to acknowledge homosexuality and not pass judgement on gays.  (In a side note, Heinlein was a proponent of nudism and polyamory, though of course these concepts didn’t appear in his young adult novels.)

The juveniles were full of adventure and the joy of scientific discovery.  I’ve been re-reading some of them: Have Spacesuit—Will Travel, Red Planet, Citizen of the Galaxy.  And also what I consider to be his most brilliant adult novel, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  I see Martian Born as a tribute to these novels, hearkening back to the days when science fiction depicted a hopeful future, instead of a future that gives us nightmares as it approaches.  I also find science fascinating, and hope to instill in this novel some of the wonder I found in the Heinlein novels.

So far, at about 10k words, the novel is a bit top-heavy with explanations of how the colonists go about their daily lives.  I may have to move some of this around to get the plot moving a bit faster in the beginning.  Though this has to be balanced with the fact that readers will be mostly unfamiliar with the setting.

But I’m having a great time with it!

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Gay, Romance, Sci-fi, Uncategorized, Work in Progress, Writing, YA

 

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“Dreams” wins Best LGBT Young Adult at the Rainbow Awards!

WinnerMDThe Rainbow Awards winners were announced last weekend, and to my surprise and delight, the first novel of my Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy—DreamsWON in the Best LGBT Young Adult category!

I consider this novel, and the other two in the trilogy to be among my best work, so I’m thrilled by this news.  The Rainbow Awards were huge this year, with hundreds of submissions, and Dreams was up against a lot of fantastic books.

This is what some of the judges had to say about it:

Oh, this one was a pure pleasure to read. I would gladly place this book in the hands of any young person, and urge them to lay aside all else to fill their hearts, minds, and souls with the beauty of James Erich’s Dreams. (Cherie)


Dreams was absolutely an outstanding read for me. This is the first book in a trilogy and without doubt I shall buy the next two installments to this story. (Rosie)


Wow, this one came as a surprise because although I enjoyed fantasy when I was young – it isn’t my go to genre as an adult. I thought the writing and story very engaging. (Janet)

So onward and upward!  Dreams of Fire and Gods is now completely finished and available through Dreamspinner, Amazon, and other resellers.  So if you’ve heard horrible things about what I put my characters through in Fire (the second book), rest assured that it all turns out well—and unpredictably, if I do say so myself—in the final book, Gods!

DreamsThreeCovers

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Awards, Fantasy, Gay, Rainbow Awards, Romance, YA

 

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Harmony Ink Young Author Challenge

This is a notice that just came out from my publisher Harmony Ink Press.  It’s aimed at young authors between the ages of 14 and 21!

Harmony Ink Young Author Challenge

Edited by Anne Regan

Harmony Ink Press is looking for young authors writing in the LGBT genre! As part of our anniversary celebration, we are inviting young writers to submit short stories for our first Young Author Challenge.

Submissions between 2,000 – 10,000 words will be considered. Main characters should be 14 – 18 years old and can be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or still in the process of working out their sexual/gender identity. The story should portray positive LGBT characters who grow or change for the better in some way. See the general Harmony Ink submission guidelines for more information.

Authors can be between the ages of 14 – 21. If the author is 17 or younger, a parent or legal guardian will have to sign the publication contract should a story be accepted.

Selected stories will be published in an anthology to be released in both paperback and eBook formats. Winners will be announced as part of the Harmony Ink anniversary celebration in March 2014. Accepted authors will be paid a flat rate based on story length. Payments will range from $25 – $55. Feedback from at least one published author will be provided for all submissions.

Submission Deadline: March 15, 2014

Publication Date: July 2014

Send all submissions to anneregan@harmonyinkpress.com. Please include “Young Author Challenge Submission” in the subject line of the e-mail.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in Gay, News, Romance, Writing, YA

 

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Author Chat for James Erich on Harmony Ink Facebook page!

Gods_FBbanner_Harmony

Join me tomorrow (Thursday, 10/16) from 3pm to 6pm on the Harmony Ink Facebook page, as I discuss Gods, the third and final installment of the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy!

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2013 in Author Chat, Fantasy, Gay, New Release, Romance, YA

 

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