Yeah. June 9. :) Thanks, Linda!!
Now we have to hustle on the cover, edits etc. to meet that date. I’m really excited to do it though. (And me being excited to edit is pretty freaky, so I plan to take advantage.) I’ll reveal the cover down the road when it happens.
Thanks, everyone, for the crossed fingers for an earlier date. You guys are magic.
I’m happy to say, my editor has officially confirmed that Samhain wants my submitted sequel to The Rebuilding Year. The working title is Life, Some Assembly Required. (It’s possible marketing may not like that title as much as I do, so stay tuned.)
Right now I don’t have a release date – Samhain’s calendar is pretty full until Nov 2015, but it should be no later than that. My lovely editor is finding out whether there might be an earlier slot. I’ll let you know when I get a definite date.
Life, Some Assembly Required follows Ryan and John, the kids and their extended family, as they move forward from the end of the first book. In fact, it takes up right from that last scene. I thought originally that The Rebuilding Year would be a stand-alone. I wrote it before I ever considered publishing my work, back when I was just doing novels for my own entertainment, and I’d envisioned enough of what came next in my head. But Ryan has been nagging me for two years to write his and John’s self-discovery and coming out journey a bit further down the line. Torey would nudge me to give her a bit more closure. What’s a writer to do?
Write the sequel, I guess. Done.
And now it’s accepted, it’s coming, stay tuned for date, cover, blurb and all the details.
The M/M Romance Group on Goodreads just finished announcing their Member’s Choice Awards for 2014 – you can read all the results if you are a group member here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2158984-2014-member-s-choice-awards-winners-announced
First through third places, as voted by the members of the group, were awarded in over 40 categories, including some All-time and Hall-of-Fame awards.
I was thrilled to see that readers enjoyed my books enough to earn them several awards:
“The Family We’re Born With” – Best Free Story (1st)
“The Family We Make” – 2nd in “Best Coming of Age”
. . . . . . . . . . … – 3rd in “Best Family Drama”
. . . . . . . . . . … – 3rd for “Best Long Story over 250 pages”
“Laser Visions” – 2nd in “Best Love’s Landscapes Story”
Many of my favorite books won awards… and many others didn’t. We have so many great stories in the genre these days, there’s no way to honor all the deserving ones. If you check out the group look at the nominations (which the mods kindly arranged alphabetically and by category) – So many good books, so little time.
CONGRATULATIONS to all the winners, and thanks to the group moderators for all the work in running the awards process and making it fun.
I have now uploaded Second Act to All Romance ebooks (https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-secondact-1720044-149.html) and to Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/505244). (Yay!!)
This should give you the epub and pdf formats that Amazon does not carry. Thanks again to Deb, Sara and Jonathan. The 128 versions it took to get there were… educational. I’m still not sure how the Smashwords meatgrinder manages its arcane mis-conversions, but as long as they’re readable now…
I hope you enjoy this light, going-home-again story, and the four guys in it. Thanks to everyone who has been buying, reading and reviewing this, especially now that the holidays are behind us. You guys are the best <3
Now I have some writing to do, with other guys calling to me. Jamie. John and Ryan. Nick and Brian… oh yeah, you haven't met them yet. Well, you will.
Second Act is now live at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Second-Act-Kaje-Harper-ebook/dp/B00RSOT67O/)
I hope to have epub and mobi at ARe soon (there is apparently a bookkeeping hitch on their end.) And pdf as soon as it behaves :)
It took a bit to get the book up on Amazon, but it looks good. (Huge thanks to Jonathan Penn, Sara Winters, Deb McGowan, and an army of test readers.) Here’s the blurb for the story:
“Sometimes you have to go home again.
When Bryce Edwards left Minnesota for the bright lights of Hollywood ten years ago, he was determined not to look back. He’s built a solid acting career through his own hard work and talent. But when he finds himself unemployed right before Christmas, the memories he’s been ignoring start to rise up and annoy him.
Maybe it’s time to take a different approach; maybe it’s time to confront his past and not just use it as motivation for his next angsty scene. If he can make peace with what happened back then— the small-town bigots who drove him away, and his first boyfriend who refused to leave with him— maybe he’ll be free to move on to something better. He’s not sure what “something better” will look like, but he’s finally ready to get on a plane, go home, and find out.”
This was a year of ups and downs, of personal and family challenges, of professional successes and failures in both writing and real life.
I published some stories I’m proud of. The Family We Make includes my favorite secondary character so far, in big brother Sam. Laser Visions was my first published SciFi and a fun chance to write for a challenging prompt. Being asked to contribute to the Another Place in Time anthology alongside some of my own favorite writers was a wonderful ego boost.
Some of the stories I’d meant to get to didn’t quite happen. The sequel to The Rebuilding Year, titled Life, Some Assembly Required is in editing for submission, almost ready to send but moving slower than I planned. The sequel to Full Circle is barely started, and although I haven’t given up all hope of making Second Act available before the New Year hits, I’m clearly down to the wire. But 2015 is another year, and the words keep coming.
I read some great books this year. My 4.5 to 5-star reads from the past year include:
A Case of Possession, A Flight of Magpies and Feast of Stephen by K.J.Charles – I loved the first book in this paranormal historical series last year, and the sequels kept the same high standards. Wonderful characters, great snarky dialogue, heat and plot and excellent supporting characters add up to all I could want in a series.
Think of England also by K.J. Charles – a historical without the paranormal elements, but just as good if not better. Curtis is bluff, conventional and almost slow. Daniel Da Silva is slippery and clever and mocking. And yet as they come together, it’s electric and unforgettable. I’m eagerly awaiting a sequel to this, even if it is scheduled for 2016! In the meantime, I’ve added a new favorite author to my auto-buy list.
The Butterfly King by Edmond Manning is the third installment in his “Lost and Founds” series, and perhaps the best yet, as the stunning 4.80 average rating on Goodreads attests. This series has to be experienced, a roller-coaster of emotion and imagination that has several books yet to go and yet delivers an amazing read in each installment. About love, loss and growth, about understanding and trust, these books are not yet HEA, but will pull you in and make you feel every bump in the road of Vin Vanbly, master manipulator and Lost King.
Shaking the Sugar Tree by Nick Wilgus – a refreshing mix of the crazy, the honest, the wildly inappropriate and the deep sweetness of love, and less a romance than a book about the love of a father for his child. This book broke the mold, and for all the surface humor, had some of the most heart-twisting pain at its depths. I’m hoping for a sequel here too.
Fearless, a bittersweet YA story by Chris O’Guinn is as painful and engaging as his previous book, Exiled to Iowa; Send Help and Couture was light and funny. A well-written, emotional YA coming of age story, with just a bit of romance.
The second and third books in Michael Metzger’s Vivaldi in the Dark series also released, completing a YA to NA series with a wonderfully-drawn depiction of love and clinical depression and the resulting challenges faced by two young men.
Mark Cooper Versus America by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock was another standout. The story offeres great characters in Mark, the brash Aussie freshman, and Deacon, the serious American student. There is a sweet romance, a bit of kink, a culture clash, and an examination of the flaws of the fraternity system as a culture of wealth and privilege. And somehow, it’s all written in a way beautifully judged to have humor, emotion, and insight, without melodrama. A definite reread.
Don’t Let Go took Harper Fox’s Tyack and Frayne paranormal mysteries into the 5-star range for me; Gideon Frayne, the village police officer, and Lee Tyack, psychic and performer, encounter stresses and challenges as they share a home and a life. I loved these guys more with each installment, and Fox is an auto-buy author for me.
My Heartache Cowboy and My Cowboy Homecoming by Z.A. Maxfield added to what has become perhaps my favorite Western M/M series. There is delicious hurt-comfort, and each book took a turn or two that were not the path most travelled, and which elevated the story beyond the mundane tropes of the genre.
Joanna Chambers’ historical Enlightenment series wound up with the third book, Enlightened – this whole series hit a sweet spot for me, slow moving with a lot of social commentary and color, and sexual and romantic tension all the way through to the happy ending.
Stories Beneath Our Skin by Veronica Sloane had a slow, plausible feel. There were emotional moments, and pasts with pain in them, but no over-angsty or over-sugary relationships. The end wraps nicely, but not too cleanly, and life goes on. There are some great secondary characters and interactions, and the intersection of tattoos and poetry.
Recovery by Con Riley was more a book about love, in all its forms, than a pure romance. Although Jamie does meet his (wonderful) man in Daniel, the story has a lot of hurt-comfort front and center, even in their relationship. The family relationships, with deep, fractured and stressed love layered over pain, were wonderful to watch. The alcoholism, and the way it lies in wait, trying to ambush Jamie when he hits a low point, was very well done. The themes of recovering from your past, rising above childhood deprivation, and later abuse, tug at the heart in a realistic way.
Julie Bozza’s knack for writing lovely, warm relationships that are not saccharine or simple came out in her M/M/M book A Threefold Cord. This is a slow building of love and trust, with obstacles that are real, never too big or angsty, but fitting for the story. It’s a smooth ride, with three great main characters and a sweet ending.
This was the year I read Marshall Thornton’s Boystown mysteries, with their evocative depiction of the end of an era. From the first book, with Nick as a sex-loving PI in the pre-AIDS 1980’s, to the sixth where the virus is upon the gay community of Chicago, these books breathe the era they are set in. The cases serve more as a very good framework for the progression of Nick as a man, through sex and love, gain and loss, and for the exposition of a time and place that would change, drastically, in a very short span of time.
Assimilation, Love and Other Human Oddities continues the Lyn Gala saga of Ondry, an alien with a deep protective love for his human and a steel-trap mind for profit. Imaginative, exciting, and unique, this is a series for all lovers of SciFi with gay characters. More than any other, this author has made me believe in a cross-species relationship that truly has a core of love and desire, with an alien who is not just a human with body paint and resculpted ears.
I’m amazed to realize these are not all of my Year’s Best. It’s good to look back, and be reminded that for all its challenges, this was a year with some wonderful reading in it. Books have been my joy and my solace again this year. I’m grateful to all the writers who gave me so many excellent hours between the pages of their stories.
I’m also grateful to all the readers who took the time to pick up my own books, especially those who commented and reviewed, who engaged my work at any level, whether they liked it or critiqued it. One of the best things I know is to have other people use their valuable time to become involved with my guys. I love seeing the men who once lived only in my head matter to other people. A few reviews stand out. I had the pleasure of seeing “Yours was my first ever M/M, and now I’m hooked” and “I now think everyone should have the right to marry the person they love, even if they are both men, because they love each other just like we do.” I had messages from readers for whom my own stories provided the comfort that I got from the books I listed above. I love this genre.
Best wishes to all of you for a peaceful, interesting and prosperous 2015. May you find good reading, meaningful work, and people to care for. And may we all help to make the world a better place.
I don’t make resolutions, but I’ll leave you with a list of goals, borrowed from the lovely lady who stepped up to help with my YA LGBT Books Group in the coming year, Mel. Thank you Mel!
(And yeah, there’s no “F” – it’s still a great list. Find reasons to smile. Happy New Year.)
I’m lucky enough to have family home for the holidays, and we will prepare the feast for Christmas Day tomorrow, my vegan husband having shot and dragged home a large Tofurky. I hope you all have good food, friends, family or books to enjoy.
I’m still working on the formatting for Second Act – my use of more than one word processor resulted in some embedded weirdness that my poor formatter stumbled over. We’ve reworked it, and I hope to release it after Christmas. A big thank you here for Sara and Jonathan, who have been dealing with the format gremlins.
Happy Holidays, everyone!