A reader had told me Amazon suggested she activate the “Automatic Book Updates” in Annotations Backup options, to get the latest file of books including The Family We Make. I put a mention of that in my last post. But another reader has told me that if you have a lot of AZ books on your device, Automatic Updates may cause many of them to try and update, which can overwhelm the device. It may also remove highlighting on books with updates. So I’d only recommend this if tech support has confirmed you should try it. I believe you can have them just “push” one book for you. Or get a copy from me, or convert it in Calibre.
Today I’m on on The Gemini Girls M/M Extravaganza event (GiMMEE), with a brief interview up as well as a couple of nice mentions of my books, and a chance to win an ebook copy of The Family We Make. (The new file, I promise ;) ) Come by and say hello on The Gemini Girls.
Hi there. So, by now some folks will have heard that there was a little hitch in getting The Family We Make launched. Despite trying it out on 5 Kindle devices and 4 epub, it turned out that one of the margin techniques that my formatter used, trying to make it really pretty, caused words to run off the page on a few older Kindles (Keyboards and some others) and older Nooks. This is not conducive to a good reading experience, or, you know, any reading experience. *insert panicked reformatting here* Anyway, we quickly got a new version up that should work for everyone. But…
I did wonder if I perhaps finally had a day that would qualify as a clusterfuck. Because on top of finding out I’d sold people a defective file, and finding out that Amazon was really messing up the process of replacing it, I had some personal minor crises going on with both kids, plus an 8-hour crazy shift at my real job. But that afternoon I met some people whose days had been even worse than mine. So I repeated “no one is dead” and “it’s just a book” and downgraded the day to a goatfuck. (My thanks to Suzanne Brockmann’s SEALS for the distinction, and meaning no disrespect to the actual pygmy goats in The Family We Make. )
Here’s the deal. If you buy the book now, it should be fine. If you bought the book anytime from yesterday (Saturday the 16th) onward, you should have a good file. If not, I definitely want to hear about it! If you bought it before Saturday you may have a file that doesn’t work on a few older devices. Look at the first page. If the lines run off the page (or on a Nook, run right to the edge or try to scroll), it’s defective. From Smashwords or ARe, I believe you should just be able to download the new version. From Amazon…
Amazon is weird about versions. They insist on inspecting the problem and if they agree it’s needed, they may “push” the new file to previous customers. Inspection can take up to 4 weeks. Right now, if you bought it once, getting the new one is harder. If you return and rebuy the book, they will still sell you the old version. (Why? WHY?!) But I’m told if you turn on Annotations Backup you might get the new one, and if not you can call tech support and they will get the new version for you. Note – if you have a big library, turning on Automatic Book Update may result in a lot of books trying to update for you. Which could be a problem, and might make calling tech support a better option. Someone also told me they used Calibre to recreate the mobi file for them, and that worked.
Or email me at kajeharper~at~yahoo~dot~com and I will make sure the correct version gets into your hands.
The picture is for my poor formatter – he tried to do something new he’d seen recommended to make the file look prettier on the page, and it worked on all our tests, but… Yeah. Not quite right. On the other hand, I love the Chapter headings and divider curlicues he used to match the title font. (The headings won’t show on some Smashwords files because… yeah, compatibility.) Anyway, he worked hard to fix this, even when he’d just had minor surgery. So thank you Michael for all the amazing effort to get it right.
Now I hope we can focus on the story. I had two lovely early reviews from Boy Meets Boy Reviews and Multitaskingmommas. It was such a wonderful lift in the goatfuck days to read those. I hope readers enjoy meeting Rick and Travis, and get to read all the words now.
The Family We Make, the second book in my “Finding Family” series, is now available from All Romance ebooks. I had temporarily taken it off Smashwords and Amazon for a couple of format issues to be resolved. If anyone gets a file with a bad format please let me know. There are new versions up now on Amazon and Smashwords that should be good for all devices including Kindle Keyboards and old Nooks.It should be on other sites like Barnes & Noble in about two weeks. I particularly want to know if anyone buys a copy from 8/16 onward that has format issues.
This is my first venture into real self-pub, and it’s been a bit of a learning experience. (Next time I’ll give myself even more lead time.) But I had fun, and I’m really excited to get this story released. I hope you’ll enjoy meeting Rick and Travis, and reconnecting with Sam and the other characters from the previous story.
In the first book, the free novella The Family We’re Born With, we met Sam Albright, as he arrived in Minnesota to spend Christmas with his biological mother, the woman who gave him up for adoption, thirty-one years ago. Although that book is primarily about Sam’s half-brother, Jesse, and Jesse’s boyfriend, Devin, we find out a few important things about Sam as well. If you haven’t read that story, you might want to stop here and go take a look at it. You can get it as a free novella from Smashwords, Amazon, All Romance ebooks, and more.
The Family We Make begins a few hours after the end of the novella – Sam discovers that locating his little brother, Rick, is really just the beginning of the story…
At seventeen, Rick Albright left his home, his parents and even his old name, rather than pretend to be straight. But being on his own was hard. When his big brother Sam found him, and insisted on giving him a place to stay, he didn’t resist too long. Living with Sam is better than fighting just to survive, but it’s not easy to find his balance in a simple, small-town life, after his time on the streets.
Travis Brinkerhoff finally managed to come out in college, his second year anyway. It was the one bright side to losing his baseball scholarship and jock status. But without money for tuition, second year came to an abrupt end. He’s back in his small Minnesota hometown, and back in the closet. Travis feels like he’s trying to fit into a life he’s outgrown. If he’s going to survive, he has to figure out a way to be his own man, maybe even have his own man, without losing the family he loves.
When he left the Marines, Sam Albright wanted nothing more than to find his missing younger brother. Mission accomplished. Now he’s got an independent, possibly traumatized, openly gay young man on his hands, a girlfriend in a war zone overseas, and parents he has to lie to in order to keep the peace. Keeping it all together won’t be easy, but Sam has never backed away from a challenge.
This is a fairly long novel, at 150,000 words. Part of what I want to do with this series is to explore the grey zones of family and acceptance. In my M/M novels, I think it’s too easy sometimes to go for black and white. The totally supportive sister who helps plan a gay wedding. The horrible homophobe who lets a gay colleague get shot. But most of life happens between those two extremes.
Life is about the dad who just wants to pretend he didn’t hear the word “gay.” Or the mom who wonders why their bisexual kid can’t just stick to the nice, easy heterosexual relationships and avoid the hard stuff. Or the brother who grudgingly accepts his brother’s partner of ten years, as long as they never touch in his presence. Being accepted and loved just as you are is the cornerstone of real family, but it’s much easier said than done. In the Finding Family series, I look at unconditional love and conditional love, and the adjustments that people make to have relationships of all kinds. What is reasonable accommodation? What is failing to be true to yourself? There are no easy answers, and sometimes life throws curve-balls that make it even more complicated. I hope you enjoy following my characters on their journey.
I had my projects for this summer planned out, when MLR Press came to me and said, “We want to do a story series with some of our top authors. Will you contribute a novella?” Three guesses on whether I’ve learned to say no to story requests yet… and the first two guesses don’t count.
It was actually particularly tempting, because I when was browsing for other covers, I happened to see a guy I wanted to write a happy ending for. This is Nelson:
There was just something about that guy… MLR decided on a story series based around a hurricane and it occurred to me that if Nelson was trapped in a house with this guy
then after a while his expression might not be quite as guarded. So I wrote “Nelson and Caleb” for MLR’s Storming Love series. There are some other great authors contributing to this series, including
The series is set to release one novella a week beginning September 5th. I’ll keep you posted on the order and dates, and give you my blurb and cover soon. But I couldn’t resist sharing my guys. It’s rare that I have a face in mind before I start writing something new, but this time it was Nelson’s eyes that pulled me into his story.
This Sunday I drove a couple of hours south to Rochester, MN, to join two other M/M authors from that city who’d decided to have a booth at PrideFest 2014. I’ve never gone to any Pride as more than a quiet anonymous wanderer of the venue, so this was new. And a bit intimidating. But the more I work with the YA LGBT group, and teens, the more I want to stand up visibly. So I made a poster and cards for the YA group, took some books to give away, and went.
The booth was the brainchild of M/M authors Tina Blenke and Posy Roberts. They’d bought a prize-wheel for people to spin, and brought some little prizes and candy, and our swag. But the best thing was, they’d brought family. Because imagine this scene…
Three authors set up a table, and prize wheel, and sit to watch people walk by, and walk by… One (yeah, me) gets up and makes a sign pointing to the wheel. “Spin to win prizes –> ” And they sit some more…
Now imagine two wonderful twelve-year-old girls – Tina’s daughter and her friend – dressed in volunteer pink shirts because they’d already spent the morning helping with set-up, standing next to the wheel. The girls smiled and chatted to people, and encouraged them in, and held the wheel low for kids. (Who were not allowed to win books – the first hit on a “Free Book” slot was a little boy about 6 years old. Um, no, not even “Rainbow Briefs.”) So a huge thanks to those two wonderful and energetic kids, who made it work.
It was fun and interesting. Several people said they didn’t know gay romance was a thing. Some paused to check out the books. We had a sheet of paper set up asking “What gay romance plot would you like to see?” People said,
*E.R. Nurse meets and falls in love with the Reaper, but doesn’t know it.
*Something with pirates and hovercraft
*Bisexuals and drag kings
*Two guys crash a hot air balloon in Africa
*Superhero falls for a mortal and they get it on for REAL.
*Pot smoking hippy and a straight edge
*LGBT love in space
*penguin-shifters… Okay, that was mine to start things off.
Lots of great ideas, and it was fun to watch people come up with them.
Some people wanted to tell us their stories. We heard from the two young women who wanted a “Southern Baptist girl falls for another girl” story, because that was their life. We met a transwoman finally making the physical transition in her fifties and loving it at last.
And we met a man about my age who talked about growing up gay in a Minnesota small town in the seventies. Where the only other gay boy he knew was his boyfriend, who committed suicide as a young teen. How isolated he felt, how even inadvertently his family put the expectations of town and church onto him. How he had to make himself an anti-suicide plan not to follow his friend. And how his eighty-year-old dad, even now, has accepted the idea that he has a boyfriend, but wants no PDAs anywhere in sight. He was pleased for the kids growing up with the openness of Pride, and yet worried about the level of animosity from the small segment of virulent homophobes around.
Because we did have two lone protesters, straight white men standing at the end of the street, holding signs about “The wages of sin are death”. Not enough to dampen the party, but a reminder of the work still to do. And that there will probably always be those who hate anyone who is not one of exactly their own kind.
On the other hand, the drag queens were excellent. (The clothes, the style… And how they manage to walk, let alone dance, in those heels I don’t know. Award-worthy performances across the board.) There were a ton of families with children, which was great. We gave a lot of rainbow bracelets out to the under-ten set. There were the Christ United Methodist Church and the People of Hope Lutheran Church and the Peace United Church of Christ with booths draped in rainbows. The Rochester Public Library had a booth, and I was delighted to see copies of “Two Boys Kissing” and “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children” and other young adult titles among the books on display.
I gave away seven copies of “Rainbow Briefs” in paperback, and five of my adult titles. Posy sold a couple of books, and handed out a lot of cards, and Tina had people take magnets of the gorgeous vampire cover of her ebook. (One guy commented he’d like to date the cover model.) I got to promo the YA LGBT Books group to a few teens and a couple of teachers and others who work with teens. So over all, it was fun and felt productive. I have a much easier time speaking up for the YA group than my own books, so that part was enjoyable.
There was some talk about maybe trying to do Minneapolis Pride next year. Maybe… And in a bit of serendipity, right before I was asked to this Rochester event, I’d been writing about John and Ryan and their teen kids, at a small-town Pride in York for Rebuilding Year 2, so I was taking mental notes. A fun day all the way around.