Join me today on the Harmony Ink Facebook page for an author chat from 1-6pm EST!

Dreams of Fire and Gods: DreamsI will be hosting an author chat today on Harmony Ink Press’s Facebook page from 1pm – 6pm EST!

Join me to chat about the release of my new YA fantasy novel, Dreams of Fire and Gods: Dreams, and win a free copy of the eBook!  And of course I’ll be posting some excerpts!

I’ll also be giving away two free drawings of the main characters, Sael and Koreh, created by artist (and fellow Harmony Ink author) Beau Shemery!

Did I manage to work in enough colors and typeface variants to be exciting?

Interview with YA author Gene Gant

Gene Gant is a fellow YA author whose novel The Thunder In His Head was published by Harmony Ink Press this past May.  I asked Gene if I could interview him months ago, but things kept coming up (on my part).  I’m thrilled that it finally came together!

Author Bio:

Gene Gant lives with his family in a small, rural community in West Tennessee. He has been a ghost writer for many years and is looking forward to publishing more works under his own name.

Interview:

Is The Thunder In His Head your first YA novel?

No, it is actually the fifth young adult novel I’ve written.  It just happened to be the first that, through a couple of revisions, reached a point where I felt comfortable enough to submit it to a publisher.  Sometimes, writing a novel can be a long and painful process, especially when you have to admit to yourself that certain parts of it have to be cut because they just don’t work.  In the case of The Thunder in His Head, that meant dumping almost the entire first half of the book.

What inspired you to write The Thunder In His Head ?

Several kids I know are experiencing a lot of pain and confusion with parents who are in the midst of very ugly, contentious divorces.  I grew up in a stable, two-parent family, as did my neighborhood friends, so it is especially heart-rending to hear these kids talk about the hell their parents are taking them through.  That, and my personal experience with the death of a parent, are the two things that inspired the book.  The parental death theme was dealt with mostly in the discarded first half of the book, but it is still touched on somewhat in the novel.

You mentioned writing some young adult novels before The Thunder In His Head.  Do you think you might go back and polish some of those up for submission now?  Or would you rather just move on to new material?

I’ve already polished one of those manuscripts and it is now in the process of being published.  Some of the other novels also have potential, and I will be going back to see if I can get them to the point where I feel they can be submitted to a publisher.  But there are always story ideas percolating in my head, a character demanding his day in the sun, a relationship or topic that’s begging to be explored.  For now, I’m working on a new project that I’m very excited about, that fantasy novel I mentioned.  Another new idea I’m anxious to get to involves a team of humans colonizing a planet in another star system.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Is The Thunder In His Head much like your personal experience of High School?

Somewhat. The kids I went to school with floated a lot of gossip and rumors about each other.  But there were two openly gay guys at my school, and they never had to fight their way to acceptance the way Kyle did.  Not only were they never bullied or ridiculed because of their sexuality, they had many straight friends, male and female.

Apart from the level of explicitness in sex scenes, what in your opinion makes a story YA, as opposed to a novel for adults?

Well, it is certainly not the age of the protagonist, as some of my friends seem to think.  There are plenty of novels with teenaged main characters that are clearly intended for adults. The main character in The Talisman, a collaborative effort between Stephen King and Peter Straub, is only twelve, but you certainly won’t find that book in any kids’ section.  These days, YA novels cover the same issues addressed in adult novels.  The distinction between the two, in my opinion, is that a young adult novel is one specifically written for and marketed to the 14 to 18-year-old age group.

How long does it usually take you to write a novel?

It takes about six months to finish a first draft.  Rewrites and revisions take a lot longer.  Sometimes, I have to put the manuscript aside for a few months and move on to other projects.  When I come back to it, I’m usually better able to see what does and does not work, and I wind up with a better manuscript.  So the actual process can take about a year.

Do you have a favorite genre?

Not really.  I enjoy all genres pretty much equally.  All I want is a good story that draws me into the author’s world and characters.  I’ve read books in every genre that have grabbed me in such fashion.  I also write in many genres.  I am currently writing a fantasy novel and will soon begin plotting a science fiction story.

How would you describe your experiences working as an author with Harmony Ink Press?

It has been great.  The editors are very supportive throughout the process of taking a work from manuscript to published novel.  They provide invaluable feedback and help polish my writing by reining in my excesses.  I enjoy working with them.

Do you plan on making writing a career, or do you have other career plans?

I’ve been writing for a living for almost ten years now.  Most of that has been in the form of training manuals and such, which requires more creativity than you might think.  It is rewarding work, in its own way, but nothing compares to the sheer fun of the world-building that goes into writing a novel.  I look forward to doing more fiction writing.

What advice would you give novice writers looking to break into the YA M/M Romance genre?

Read every book in the genre that you can get your hands on, and make sure that you write something every day.  Nothing can help a writer learn the ins and outs of a particular genre better than reading.  And writing something every day is great practice.  It doesn’t mean that you have to work on a novel every day.  The daily writing can be a paragraph describing a character, or a page of dialog between two characters who disagree about what to have for lunch, or the jumbled, frantic thoughts of a character who has accidentally fallen out of a ten story window.  Not only does this help develop writing skills, it can spark story ideas.

Can you tell us a bit about your next project?

My next YA novel is The Battle for Jericho, which will be published by Harmony Ink Press, probably in January, 2013.  The main character, Jericho, has a girlfriend and strict, highly religious parents.  When he realizes he is attracted to both boys and girls, he not only worries about how this will affect his relationships, he begins to question his faith and his identity.  Despite the somewhat serious theme, I had a lot of fun writing it.

Blurb:

Kyle Manning is a tall, strong, openly gay sixteen-year-old who makes decent grades and plays on his school’s basketball team. He’s a good kid who cares deeply about his family and friends. But his life has become a mess. His mom, Lela, has finally had enough of her husband Joe’s serial cheating. Kyle’s parents are headed for divorce, and the collapse of their marriage torments him.

Divorcing parents is bad enough, but Kyle also has to deal with new people in his parents’ lives. He likes Stephanie, his father’s girlfriend, but he finds himself increasingly attracted to his mother’s handsome boyfriend, Reece. As Kyle struggles with his fear and frustration, he grows angrier and more erratic.

Then he meets Dwight Varley, a buff, attractive athlete from another school who takes an instant liking to him. Having Dwight around doesn’t solve all Kyle’s problems, but it does make life more bearable. As their relationship develops, Dwight becomes a bright oasis in Kyle’s harried life. But Dwight’s life is more complicated than Kyle ever imagined, and just when things start to get better, Kyle discovers the truth about Dwight—and about his father.

“Seidman” has received two honorary mentions at the Rainbow Awards!

rainbowawards_hon_mention3

So yesterday the winners of the Rainbow Awards were announced.  The Rainbow Awards are given out by a panel of judges (quite a large panel, in fact) on the popular Elisa Rolle review site.  I don’t know how many years they’ve been going on for now, but they’re pretty big, with a huge list of books in the competition, so it’s really an honor to win.

Seidman didn’t win, but it did get an honorable mention in two categories:

BEST LGBT YOUNG ADULT / COMING OF AGE

and

BEST GAY DEBUT NOVEL/BOOK!

In honor of this, my publisher has discounted Seidman by 25% for the entire week at All Romance eBooks!

In other news, Dreams of Fire and Gods: Dreams has gone into galley proof, which means that it’s mostly done — we’re just checking over the formatted novel for typos and other errors.  It will be available on December 15th!

Coinciding with the release, I (James Erich, in case you’ve forgotten who I am) will be doing my first online chat!    It will be on the Harmony Ink Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/HarmonyInkPress

So come and say hello!  And win free stuff!  We’ll be giving away a free eBook copy of Dreams of Fire and Gods: Dreams, as well as some original sketches of the main characters, Sael and Koreh, by Beau Shemery!  I think it’s from 1pm EST to 6pm EST, but I’ll double check that and post the hours here again, when I’m more certain.  The first Harmony Ink chat was yesterday, featuring Beau Shemery (in his author guise, but with plenty of giveaways of his sketches), discussing his steampunk novel, The Seventh of London, and it went pretty well.

Lastly, I’ve submitted Seidman for consideration in the Lambda Literary Awards.  As they say, you can’t win, if you don’t enter.  The competition is steep, but the award is prestigious.  Even being a finalist would be amazing!

Dreams of Fire and Gods: Dreams has a cover!

We’ve just been through some rough drafts of the cover for book one of Dreams of Fire and Gods and this is what the finalized cover looks like!

The art is by Paul Richmond, who I’ve worked with in the past, and I think it does a great job of showing the struggle between the gods of night and the gods of the day in my fantasy kingdom of Dasak — and doing so in a way that really grabs your attention!

We’ve finished the first rounds of edits on the novel and it’s scheduled to be released on December 15th through Harmony Ink Press!

“Dreams of Fire and Gods: Fire” has been accepted for publication!

I just signed the publishing contract for Book Two of my Dreams of Fire and Gods YA fantasy trilogy with Harmony Ink!  This one is simply called Fire.  I don’t exactly have a blurb yet, but here’s the description I included in my cover letter:

While Sael and his father, Vek Worlen, attempt to keep their respective cities from coming apart under the strain of frightening magical influences or being destroyed outright by the gods, Koreh is informed of an extremely dangerous plan that the Taaweh have to rescue their goddess from the Stronni:  a plan that only he and Sael can carry off.

In the meantime, a young man named Donegh begins to piece together what happened in Harleh Valley, as he makes his way through an increasingly alien landscape, intent on carrying out his mission to assassinate the Dekan of Harleh, Sael dönz Menaük.

Book One (Dreams) entered the editing queue last week and the cover is also being worked on now.  I’m dying to see what the art department comes up with!

Of course, this also means I have to finish Book Three.  I’ve begun it as a NaNoWriMo project this month, but so far I haven’t written much.  The problem is, I just finished (and submitted) an adult novel last weekend, so I’m a bit worn out creatively.  But hopefully, I’ll perk up and get moving on Book Three this coming week!

Great review for “Seidman”!

Jessica Chambers over at Rainbow Book Reviews has written a wonderful review for Seidman!

The thing that struck me as particularly good about this novel was how we get to see Kol and Thorbrand grow up, following their progress from carefree boys interested only in each other, to mature young men with their own responsibilities. Though the story does have a strong fantasy element, the developing relationship between the heroes is incredibly realistic, taking into account the attitudes towards homosexuality at the time, and is in fact one of the most poignant I’ve come across in a while.

Read the whole review here!

“Dreams of Fire and Gods: Dreams” has entered the editing queue!

Book one of my YA fantasy trilogy has now entered editing!  I just approved the blurb today:

A thousand years ago, two factions of gods, the Stronni and the Taaweh, nearly destroyed the Kingdom of Dasak by warring for the land and the frightened humans who lived there.  Then suddenly the Taaweh vanished and the Stronni declared victory.

Now, as tensions escalate between the emperor and his regent, Vek Worlen, the Vek’s son, apprentice mage Sael dönz Menaük, finds himself allied with a homeless vagabond named Koreh. Together they flee the capital city and make their way across a hostile wilderness to the Vek’s keep, mere steps ahead of the emperor’s assassins.

But Koreh has dreams—dreams of the ancient Taaweh—and he knows the looming war between the emperor and the Vek will be nothing compared to the war that is about to begin. The Taaweh are returning, and the war between the gods may destroy the kingdom once and for all.

I talked to my publisher this weekend about changing the title of the first book from Awakening to Dreams.  This is because it occurred to me when I finished book two that the first book does focus on Koreh’s dreams a lot — they frequently occur at chapter breaks.  And the second book features fire in the form of fireballs being hurled at the city by the Stronni, while the last book has the gods (the Stronni and the Taaweh) finally confronting each other on the field of battle.  Therefore the titles will be:

Dreams of Fire and Gods: Dreams
Dreams of Fire and Gods: Fire
Dreams of Fire and Gods: Gods

Not particularly brilliant, perhaps, but I think it works.

Book one should be released this December!