So that was 2013. Well…
On the personal-life side, it was the year in which I learned to use “but no one is dead, yet” as a positive statement. Enough said.
But on a book and writing side, it was a pretty good year.
I went to the Gay Rom Lit retreat as an author this year. For the first time, I created Kaje Harper swag, in the form of magnets and plot-bunnies, and ducks.
I spoke up in front of an audience, and chatted with readers, and signed books, and handed out said swag. Like a real author 🙂 By the way, all of the ducks I handed out had a number on the bottom, and directions to email me for a free ebook. Only a third of them were claimed. If you have a reading duck and haven’t claimed your freebie, look at the bottom side and email me with the info, or even post it here and I’ll get in touch.
I didn’t accomplish all that I’d hoped to on the writing front, but I had some fun. Nor Iron Bars a Cage wrote itself as a complete novel in the span of six weeks, spooling out from under my fingers more easily than any other book I’ve written so far. I had the joy of playing in my own fantasy world, and then the pleasure of seeing many readers enjoy the story I’d created. I particularly appreciated the reviews that began, “I don’t normally like fantasy, but…”
With Learning Curve I had the bittersweet pleasure of leaving Mac and Tony and the kids in a good place in their lives. I’ll miss them, and may revisit them someday. But Tony had been dragged into enough mysteries for the moment, and Mac had achieved the growth and changes he’d needed to step out of that first dark lonely closet and into the light. Closing off that chapter in their lives felt right.
Sole Support garnered more mixed reviews, but writing the story of how a parent’s downhill slide could bring pain, and yet leave room for love, was vital for me. After months of writer’s block the summer before, I needed to get that book out, to unclog my creative heart for the rest. A few readers’ hearts found a deep resonance with Kellen and Mike, and Kellen’s mother, which is all I needed to make the publishing worthwhile.
I did a lot of traveling this year, and found that I can’t write very well when on the move. But on the plus side, I can read. I read a lot of good books, some recent releases, and some just new to me. So at the end of this post, I’ll give you my personal “M/M reading pleasures of 2013” list. These are not necessarily the “best” books I read, in terms of literary merit. These are the ones that made the real world go away for a while, which made me smile or cry or sigh, and which I will reread. Obviously, preferences are as individual as people, but these are books I hope some of you will also love.
My Goodreads Young Adult LGBT Books group became even more of a pet project this year. With the other moderators dealing with their own personal situations, I spent a fair bit of time on the group. We grew from 1200 members to over 2000. We wrote a lot of little short stories. (I did thirteen myself.) We read some great books. And there were discussions and news items. This was a banner year for LGBT rights, at least here in the US, and I really enjoyed posting each victory for the group. The latest I noted was that the Boy Scouts will start accepting openly gay youths as members on January 1st (and about time.) I released the free book Rainbow Briefs by “Kira Harp”, with fifteen of my older stories from the group, and I treasure a couple of emails from teen readers who found a reflection of their lives in those stories, and were encouraged by them.
The world of a writer has changed a lot, from when I penned my first private stories on a portable typewriter, back in the nineteen-seventies. What was once a solitary profession, highlighted by occasional fan mail, has become much more interactive. The Internet allows readers and writers to come together in a common community. Sometimes that community has its squabbles and flaws, but most of the time I’ve found it a remarkable solace. Especially for those of us who are more gifted with the pen than with speech, it’s a place to spend time with friends in pursuit of common pleasures. I’m grateful every day for the chance to share thoughts and recommendations and laughter and commiseration with readers and fellow authors from around the world. It is that community, more than any other reward, which makes publishing my stories worthwhile.
I hope the new year 2014 is a better one than 2013 for all of us, (even those for whom 2013 was pretty damned good.) The momentum toward LGBT rights in the US gives me hope for the future. I have plans and dreams, and lots of books to write. And my To-Be-Read list is now over 500 books. So much good stuff awaits. I hope you all have a lovely New Year’s Day, and a year of warmth, discovery, and joy to come.
My personal “I loved these M/M books in 2013” list (with links to my Goodreads reviews):
The General and the Horse-Lord by Sarah Black – a mature, established couple, coming out of the military and out of the closet, in a very real and sometimes imperfect way
King Mai by Edmond Manning – the second book in The Lost and Founds, with Edmond’s signature humor, love and quirky brilliance
Bone Rider by J. Fally – a wild, exciting, everything-from-aliens-to-the-mafia story, with a surprisingly sweet, hot and unusual M(M)M relationship
Claimings, Tails and Other Alien Artifacts by Lyn Gala – this one made me believe in a relationship between a human and an alien.
The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles – an atmospheric, alternate history Victorian fantasy, with wonderful dry wit and great writing
Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk – this series now has three books out, a great historical paranormal romp with a charmingly geeky main character
Brothers of the Wild North Sea by Harper Fox – one of my favorite authors wrote us yet another absorbing, lyrical, vivid story, this one with just a hint of magic, set in Viking times
Faster Than the Speed of Light by Lucius Parhelion – a realistic, slow-burn story in an academic setting, in the 1950’s gay/Red-witch-hunt days
Like Coffee and Doughnuts by Elle Parker – funny, warm but with an active plot, and great MCs (and starts a series)
Laying Ghosts by James Buchanan – this one probably ends a favorite series, which began with Hard Fall. Joe Peterson, the conflicted, gay, Mormon, Sheriff’s Deputy, is one of the best characters in M/M
Favorite YA :
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz – this is a lovely coming-of-age story, with an LGBT theme but universal in its depiction of a teen boy moving from childhood to adulthood
Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson – a funny, warm and quirky story of self-discovery
Favorite Holiday Story:
Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane – this was the holiday story that touched my heart, lovely and painful with poignant moments, all told in Rusty’s wonderful narrative voice.
Wishing you all moments of love and laughter, discovery and joy, and great stories in 2014.
~ Kaje Harper