It’s the Looking trailer!

I adored the show Looking, which had a brief but special 2-season run on HBO a few years ago. Dom’s mustache. House in Virginia. Kevin’s butt. (seriously) It was all wonderful. Most importantly, Looking showed gay characters as complex, imperfect individuals. Not stereotypes. It had the vibrant, fast-paced dialogue of director Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, another one of my favorites. I like to think that the characters in my Browerton University series would be friends with this gang.

When the show was cancelled after season 2, we were promised a wrap-up movie. And now it’s coming on July 23, and judging from the trailer, I know it’s going to be amazing and extra angsty and will send the show out with the bang it deserves. (Even though Kevin’s bleach blond hair is like a 2000s flashback nobody wanted.)

Did you watch Looking? Excited for the movie?

 

 


 

Win a signed OUT ON A LIMB paperback!

What’s summer without a beach read featuring a hot shirtless guy in sunglasses on the cover?

Amiright?
Amiright?

To celebrate the successful launch of Out on a Limb, and the arrival of summer, and your general awesomeness, I am giving away 1 signed paperback of Out on a Limb to one of my blessed Outsiders.

What’s an Outsider, you say? They are members of my mailing list who are the first to find out about upcoming books, like sneak peeks and exclusive content, as well as sweet giveaways such as this.

 

To enter the giveaway, all you need to do are 2 simple steps:

  1. Become an Outsider. Sign up to join the best mailing list in all the land. (And that won’t spam your inbox – promise!)
  2. Email me at ajtruman.writer [at] gmail [dot] com and let me know what you have planned for this summer. Even if it’s just hanging out and eating ice cream, I want to hear about it. Well…except if you’re eating mint chocolate chip. I still don’t understand that. It’s like eating and brushing your teeth at the same time.

You must sign up and email me by June 15, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. CST to be entered to win.

*Also, if you’ve read Out on a Limb or one of my other books, I would really appreciate if you leave a review on Amazon or your preferred vendor. Honest reviews are always welcome, even if they’re just a few words, because they help other people discover our books.

 

 

Out on a Limb Release Day!

It’s here! My second full-length book, the next volume in the Browerton University series, ready for consumption. I am so pumped to share this with you. I loved writing Cameron and Walker. And I love being able to share this stories with you. Enough with the mushy stuff:

Pick up your copy today at:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
All Romance Ebooks
Kobo
Smashwords

~~Scroll down to find out about the Out on a Limb blog tour~~

This book was an emotional rollercoaster. It was up and down and push and pull, chalk full of angst, sadness, heartbreak, sweetness, laughter and love. — Tracy @ Bayou Book Junkie

I loved the relationship growth between Walker and Cameron. Their interactions felt natural, and there’s something to be said for a slow burn written right. — Lili @ Gaybook Reviews

Out on a Limb - High ResolutionNo looking back. That’s the motto of college senior Cameron Buckley, whether he’s kicking his latest hookup out of bed or plotting out his future as a hit screenwriter. With only a few weeks until graduation, he’s ready to put Browerton University in his rearview mirror and start the life he’s been dreaming of ever since he was a kid. But a chance meeting with a sexy stranger in a bar throws a wrench into his Hollywood plans.

For Walker Reed, no looking back is hard to do when you work minutes away from your alma mater and share child custody with your college sweetheart. Almost fifteen years after graduating from Browerton, he can’t stop wondering how he got here. He has an ex who can’t stand him, a five-year-old son he can’t connect with, and a dead-end job he can’t escape.

When Cameron and Walker first meet, they know the rules. They know their friendship has an expiration date, yet it begins changing them in ways they never expected. As graduation looms, they both know things can’t go anywhere, but they can’t keep denying the feelings pulling them closer, even as an offer from Hollywood threatens to tear them apart forever.

OUT ON A LIMB is a gay new adult romance filled with humor, heart, and hot guys. It’s the second full-length book in the Browerton University series, but can be read as a standalone. The book is intended for readers 18 and up.

Blog Tour!

Over the next week, I’ll be going on tour around the gay romance blogosphere. If you like me and like what you read, feel free to share the links. I came with some epic posts about music, movies, and books that I’m sure you will enjoy.

4/18 – The Blogger Girls
4/20 – Gay Book Reviews
4/21 – The Novel Approach
4/22 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews
4/25 – Hearts on Fire Reviews

Finally…

You’ve probably heard every author say this, but please leave a review of the book on Amazon or Goodreads or your vendor of choice. Reviews are essential in word-of-mouth. Whether your review is one sentence or one page, and whether positive or negative, they help other readers discover me and the Browerton University world. Think about this: would you take a chance on a book with a lot of reviews or no reviews?

Finally, for real…

Thank you so much for supporting me and letting me and my lovelorn characters into your lives. I do this for you.

 

Treat Yo Self Day

Today is the light at the end of my tunnel, the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow, the reward after all my hard work. I have a tradition that whenever I finish a draft of a book, I celebrate with a “Treat Yo Self” Day, as epitomize by Tom and Donna from Parks & Recreation.

More than the fame and glory that will come with publishing said book eventually, what gets me through the grueling process of writing a draft is knowing that the day after I finish, I will get to pamper myself, doing what I want.

And that usually entails junk food.

I can usually finish one of these off before the coming attractions, then go up for a refill. #dontlookatme
I can usually finish one of these off before the coming attractions, then go up for a refill. #dontlookatme

I started this tradition back in college when I finish the first draft of my first ever screenplay. It was a Saturday night, and as soon as I finished, I walked to the corner store and bought myself a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Then I sat on my couch and watched Miss Congeniality.

Ten years later, things haven’t evolved too much from that tradition. After finishing my latest first draft yesterday, I will spend tomorrow treating myself to Chicago deep dish pizza and a midday movie where I will gorge on popcorn, chocolate, and non-diet soda. To some of you, this sounds amazing, and to others, it sounds like the saddest thing ever. To each his own.

But the point is that we need these Treat Yo Self days. Finishing a draft or accomplishing something huge is a big deal. We need to stay motivated. We need to celebrate our victories. Life can be filled with lots of setbacks and roadblocks and failures and crappy moments. We need to commemorate the good times, the times when we persevered and triumphed. And then tomorrow, it’s back to work.

How do you celebrate your small victories?

photo credit: Movie Time via photopin (license)

Out on a Limb + News

Helo Outsiders,

I am in a little bit of a whirlwind with getting ready to release my next book, OUT ON A LIMB, which comes out April 18, 2016. [pause for gasps of excitement and spontaneous applause]

I wanted to drop a quick line to keep you updated. First, behold the cover and the blurb:

Out on a Limb - High ResolutionNo looking back. That’s the motto of college senior Cameron Buckley, whether he’s kicking his latest hookup out of bed or plotting out his future as a hit screenwriter. With only a few weeks until graduation, he’s ready to put Browerton University in his rearview mirror and start the life he’s been dreaming of ever since he was a kid. But a chance meeting with a sexy stranger in a bar throws a wrench into his Hollywood plans.

For Walker Reed, no looking back is hard to do when you work minutes away from your alma mater and share child custody with your college sweetheart. Almost fifteen years after graduating from Browerton, he can’t stop wondering how he got here. He has an ex who can’t stand him, a five-year-old son he can’t connect with, and a dead-end job he can’t escape.

When Cameron and Walker first meet, they know the rules. They know their friendship has an expiration date, yet it begins changing them in ways they never expected. As graduation looms, they both know things can’t go anywhere, but they can’t keep denying the feelings pulling them closer, even as an offer from Hollywood threatens to tear them apart forever.

*chills*

Next, ch-ch-check out the front and back cover for the paperback version. Don’t you just love a guy with a wide stance? That means he’s carrying a lot of cargo.

out on a limb paperback cover

Yum. Moving on…

I’m attending GRL this year! Not only is it my first GRL, but it’s my first conference. Period. I’m ridiculously excited to meet readers and Outsiders. Comment on this post or message me on FB or email if you are going. If enough people respond yes, I may try to put together an Outsider drinks. Stay tuned.

Let’s see, let’s see…anything else?

I’ll be doing some guest posts, too at The Novel Approach and Boy Meets Boy Reviews, so watch out for those. And if you’re a real Outsider, then you may be privy to a super-secret, members-only contest happening in May. Make sure you’re signed up for updates.

Meanwhile, whenever I hear this song, it inspires me to write a kissing scene.

And that’s all she wrote. I didn’t set up pre-orders for OUT ON A LIMB, but links will be available on 4/18.  Lemme know what you think of the cover and book and GRL and life in general.

-AJ

 

Dealing with Bad Reviews

TJ Klune wrote an excellent blog post on Love Bytes last week. Apparently, a bunch of readers and reviewers were saying that TJ Klunes hates women because of how some of his characters use the word vagina as a put-down. They tagged him in their reviews so he’d see them. TJ claimed that he himself was not misogynistic and that it was just slang. But did he get into a fight with them?

Nope.*

He put it so well, I’m just going to repost his best paragraph:

When an author writes a book, puts said book up for sale, and has people buy said book with their money/credit/whatever, the book no longer belongs to the author. It belongs to the person who bought it, and they are allowed to have whatever opinion they want, even if you think it’s the wrong one. There is nothing you can do to change reactions to your words printed on the page. And if you insist on pursuing these opinions, there’s nothing that says you can’t use legitimate criticism to make your next work better.

Because we live in a time of blogs and social media, authors and readers are closer than ever. Which is great because we can form personal connections with our fans, but also can suck because we can just as easily see who hates our books. It’s hard not to look in the age of Google. I once stumbled upon a Twitter chain between two people about my book, and it wasn’t sunshine and rainbows.

Everyone's a critic. Get used to it.
Everyone’s a critic. Get used to it.

But writers should never engage with negative reviews, or even positive reviews. Those reviews aren’t for us.  They are for other potential readers. I actually felt a little bad for finding that Twitter chat. Even though it was my book, it wasn’t any of my business. It’s futile to think you can convince somebody why they “didn’t get” your book. It’s like thinking you can change someone’s political opinion through a Facebook comment chain. There’s no one right way to read a book. We bring our own backgrounds and experiences and opinions to what we read.

Reviews tell you more about the reader than about the book. 

You’d be surprised how many writers have trouble with bad reviews. I remember going to a bookstore panel with a bunch of YA authors, many of them authors of successful books, and they went off on teen bloggers and the Goodreads community. They called GR one of the circles of hell. I understand people taking reviews personally and that nobody likes a bad review, but it felt unprofessional. People are paying honest, hard-earned money to buy your book. (And many of these authors were very well-compensated by their publishers) They should have the right to give their honest opinion. To go after a reviewer made them seem small in that moment.

It gets dicier when reviewers claim an author is sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. That’s our reputation. If only readers could understand that we do not endorse every word that comes out of our characters’ mouths. But still, like TJ says, do not engage. Because the second you respond directly to the allegation, you give it legitimacy. Think of the “birther” movement that dogged President Obama. They were seen as a fringe group…until the President held a press conference showing his full birth certificate. That made their claims legitimate. If TJ hadn’t written this post, then most readers probably wouldn’t have known about the misogyny claims.

I believe in moving forward. If your work is criticized as being sexist, racist, etc., and it’s really affecting you, then work on fixing it for future books. That shows you’ve listened. Being defensive about a book that’s already been published doesn’t work. The internet is written in ink. Those criticisms won’t magically disappear because you gave a response, no matter how thoughtful. You can’t change opinions. What’s done is done. The only thing you control is your next book.

I try not to read reviews, but sometimes I can’t help myself. And yes, it stings when I stumble on a bad review, but that’s my problem. I’ve learned that getting any type of reaction out of a reader is a success. That means they’ve engaged with your book and characters enough to have an opinion, good or bad. The worst review is indifference. 

In other words, don’t be mad when people are talking about you. Be scared when they stop.**

 

*Well, almost nope because he did still write a blog post about it.

** I think Paris Hilton said this, but I can’t find the source. Maybe it’s for the best.

Sound off, Outsiders. Do you feel authors have a right to respond to their negative reviews?

 

photo credit: John and Jesper via photopin (license)

Donald Trump Gay Erotica

The billionaire trope is a popular one in gay fiction. As is enemies to lovers. So I guess it shouldn’t be too much of a shocker that someone has written a gay erotica novel about one of the world’s most hated (or loved) billionaires – Donald Trump.

Elijah Daniel got drunk one night and decided to write an erotic short story about The Donald gettin’ it on with a new bellboy at one of his hotels. The bellboy’s “loins trembled” from the “scent of toupee adhesive and spray tan” emanating from the presidential candidate and secret weapon of Home Alone 2: Lost in the New York.

Catchy title! 

It seems that Trump is the new dinosaur, as the book has shot to the stop of the Amazon best-seller list. After one week of release, the story has garnered over 200 reviews and topped (hehe) the LGBT and humorous erotica lists. The story is currently selling more copies than Trump’s business classic The Art of the Deal. I guess it’s fitting since Trump’s appearance has helped debates and TV shows reach record ratings during the election cycle. Why not erotica? I think he would approve of such a successful brand extension.

If anything, what Mr. Daniel and his story has showed me is that if you have an idea inside you, go for it. Don’t wait. Thanks to Amazon and e-publishing, books can be just as responsive to popular culture as television and blogs. While we want to craft the best books we can, sometimes it pays to rush and ride a wave of relevance. After the first batch of primaries next month, Trump could be old news and then nobody would want to read Mr. Daniel’s story.

If you’re curious, Trump Temptation: The Billionaire and the Bellboy is available on KU or to purchase. And I’ll leave you with Mr. Daniel’s message to readers: “But thanks for reading my f–king garbage, I guess. I’m so sorry.”

Outsiders, which pop culture figure or event would you love or hate to see in erotica form? Cruz/Bush anyone? (Sorry for putting that image into your head)

 

 

Why I care about Tom Hardy’s Bisexuality

15067102739_64bac8af56_mI shouldn’t. It’s rude of me. It’s none of my business. It doesn’t matter what he does or who he does in his private life. The rampant speculation over Tom Hardy’s sexuality is a byproduct of our paparazzi culture, where people have no respect for any celebrity privacy.

But…

I care. I can’t help it. I’m sorry, Tom.

You see, Tom Hardy gave frank, refreshing answers in a 2008 interview, regarding his sexuality. He suggested that he had fooled around with guys when he was younger, but it wasn’t his thing, and now he’s married to a woman. That response was brilliant and progressive, and I hate that it’s being treated like a piece of salacious gossip and a gotcha journalism crutch.

I doubt Tom Hardy is gay. He’s bi. And barely bi. More like bi-curious. Right now, we have openly gay celebrities and proudly trans celebrities, but we don’t have any open and proud male bisexual celebrities.

Guess what? Tom isn’t alone. There are plenty of guys who’ve been with guys and girls. They experimented. Their sexualities are more fluid than other guys. It sounds like such a radical concept because the mainstream likes to see sexuality as gay or straight with no in-between. People forget that you could exist somewhere in the middle of the Kinsey scale, not just as either end. We’re okay when it’s women, but freak out if we find out a guy fooled around with another guy once.

We need more male bi-sexual and bi-curious representation. How awesome would it be if Tom Hardy — major franchise movie star —  was like “Yeah, I fooled around guys when I was younger. It wasn’t my thing. Next question.” It’d be a breath of fresh air. And maybe there’d be a young guy out there battling with his sexuality who after hearing that, would feel a little more secure in his confusion.

But of course, once Tom Hardy started getting famous, he backtracked on his past comments. While it isn’t any of my business, by denying any of his past bisexual activity, then the status quo wins. And that’s why I care when I probably shouldn’t.

I think we’re at a point where people want so badly for there to be a gay male movie star. We’re so close. We don’t want another Travolta. So we’re clinging to anything that could give us hope, and that includes the thought of MySpace-era Tom Hardy getting down with another guy.

What do you think? Should people stop asking Tom Hardy to “clarify” his sexuality, or should he be upfront and honest about his erstwhile bi-curiosity?

 

Image from photopin.com (license)

Writing Update – July 25

Writing Update

This is why none of my stories have paragraph indents, capital letters, or the number 1
This is why none of my stories have paragraph indents, capital letters, or the number 1

I can’t believe this is the last weekend of July. Where did this summer go? I know everyone says that, but summer in Chicago didn’t start until mid-month, when temperatures finally hit above 75 degrees.

I have been writing like a fiend. I am at 55,000 words on my WIP. Whenever I outline my books, I think my plot is rock solid…until I start writing. It’s the most frustrating part of this process. My plot usually falls apart by the second half. But that’s what revision is for. I always tell myself nobody gets it right on the first try. No first draft is publishable. I am merely generating the clay which will then get molded into a novel.

I hit 50k on Wednesday, exactly one month from when I started writing this book. My own private NaNoWriMo. I’ve done NaNo thrice and failed every single time. But now I know that I can do it! (And in less than 30 days since I don’t write on weekends, usually.)

Paperback News!

I have decided to publish Out in the Open as a paperback. I’ve had requests from readers about physical copies, and it was surprisingly easy to do on Createspace. Also, looking at my bookcase, it would be nice to have a physical edition of my book. Something to hold in my hands. I can flip through the pages of my very own book and know that I wrote this. 

The paperback should populate on Amazon in the next few days. I don’t have any plans to publish Behind Closed Doors as a paperback for the time being, since it’s not a full-length novel.

I’m off to dip my toes in Lake Michigan this weekend. How are you enjoying your summer?

The Henry and Nolan story that wasn’t

In Behind Closed Doors, there’s a story about Henry having to spend a daylong road trip with the sullen, brooding Nolan. I loved the way this story turned out. Too bad it was supposed to be a full-length novel.

In the M/M genre, authors release books in quick succession. The best authors release a book every few months. I wanted to keep up with that pace, and I thought I could. In the original backmatter of Out in the Open, I said the next book was coming in spring 2015.

I planned to write a novel from Henry’s point-of-view. Henry was introduced briefly in Out in the Open. He wasn’t planted to be the protagonist of a future book. He just showed up the story. I turned to him when thinking about expanding the Browerton universe, but the problem was that I had already given him traits and a backstory. In Out in the Open, he tells Ethan that he’s been dating a guy in the closet for a few months, and hasn’t even told his friends.

That was canon. And I had to try to build off that. How do you write a story about a guy with a secret boyfriend that’s still fresh and different from your first book? At the same time, I had recently watched this phenomenal film called Weekend. It followed 2 guys over the course of a, um, weekend. They have sex, talk, have sex, talk, connect. It was like watching a play. I wanted to do something like that with Henry’s story.

I came up with a story about Henry going home for Thanksgiving break and trying to deal with his boyfriend and family. He rides back with Nolan, and the two characters intersect over the weekend. (Weekend, go figure)

The story sounded good in my head, but when I tried to write it, it was a slog. I struggled to write a complete novel. There wasn’t enough plot. The worst part was that it was dark. Henry’s relationship with his boyfriend was effed up. Nolan’s sullenness stemmed from an effed relationship with a high school friend. There was a suicide, sexual assault, cheating, depression, anger, breakdowns, jails. Happy Holidays?

Plus, Nolan and Henry weren’t intersecting enough. So I was writing 2 separate stories, in effect, and both were downers.

Now, I have no issue with dramatic stories. But things weren’t clicking on this one. And I realized that my books have humor, heart and hot guys. I was missing humor. This was not the type of story I was meant to write. Meanwhile, I had this self-imposed spring 2015 deadline breathing down my neck, which was effecting my writing and making me second-guess everything.

That’s when I decided to chuck the novel. This was not the Henry story I wanted to write. I turned my attention to short stories as a way to get my writing groove back. I had some ideas for stories with Browerton characters, and I just went for it, not worrying about spring 2015.

One of the stories revolved around Henry and his closeted boyfriend. What if I could write a story exploring that relationship? I had a great idea for a story that only took place in Henry’s boyfriend’s bedroom. Like a play. It was hard to reconcile how Henry could be in this relationship for so long. And why did he tell Ethan but not his friends? And yet again, Henry’s story went dark.

It was claustrophobic and seriously effed up. There are plenty of great stories with that criteria, but with Henry’s story, there was always something missing. The final piece of a puzzle. Just like with the full-length novel I trashed. It didn’t have the spark of the other stories. Is this the story I wanted to saddle Henry with? He wasn’t a bad guy. He didn’t deserve this. I felt like he wouldn’t be able to interact with other Browerton characters after going through what happened in this short story.

So I trashed it.

I was frustrated. Kicking myself, literally and figuratively. Why couldn’t I write this kid’s story? There was plenty of really interesting elements I had come up with, but the finished product wasn’t coming together. I gave it serious thought. What did I want to say? What did I like about Henry’s story? Well, I loved the road trip aspect. I love the idea of two strangers getting to know each other over one day. Maybe I could write Henry and Nolan’s story on the roadtrip and leave out what happens after they arrive. The journey could be the destination in this case.

Two and a half days later, I had written their story, Road Trip Cone of Silence. It poured out of me. I was smiling to myself as I typed. This was it. I knew it. I felt it.

I had finally cracked Henry’s story. It took me 70,000 words to get there, but it was worth it. You learn more about yourself from what you get wrong than what you get right. I learned what I wanted in my stories.

This was a trying experience, but ultimately invaluable. It’s not the gold standard of how a writer should act, frankly. Maybe I should’ve stuck it out with the novel or the first short story. I doubt I’m the first writer this has happened, too. In the future, I may try to push through. With humor, though. I can’t write without humor. Overall, I’m proud of myself for seeing it through Henry’s story.

So if you’re curious why there was such a long wait between books, and an even longer wait between novels, here you go. Trust that I have been writing. I’m not perfect. I’m just a working writer.