I published my first Eli Easton m/m romance in April 2013, so 2014 was a “year two” for me. That’s the year when newbie enthusiasm faces the realities of the market and the daily work flow, and you either flunk out entirely, settle into a dabblers casual ‘tude, or decide you’re in it for the serious long haul.
As of Dec 2014 I can say that it’s option c—my butt is firmly planted on this piece o’ earth.
In 2014 I published 5 m/m romance books, making 13 total. I had less publications in 2014 than in 2013, but I released my first full-length novel (“The Mating of Michael”).
Many readers of m/m romance also write it, so you will know what I’m talking about when I say there are things an author must consider when deciding whether or not to invest more time in a genre. First: Am I objectively any good at writing it? Second: Do I really like the genre enough to dedicate a large chunk of my time to building a career in it? Third: Can I continue to come up with fresh ideas and fresh work in this area story after story?
The answer to those questions for me is 'yes'. I still feel I have something to offer the genre, I still really enjoy writing it, and I've gotten some lovely encouragement which makes me feel like my efforts are not in vain.
The m/m romance genre is an interesting beast. If being a ‘romance author’ is not taken very seriously by the general population and/or literary world, writing m/m romance is regarded with even more confusion/embarrassment/disdain. It seems to be the equivalent of saying ‘I write porn’. Now, I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with writing porn, but that’s not the way I consider my Eli Easton books.
Granted, I am probably in tune with point-oh-one percent of the population in this, but I really don’t see a lot of difference in regular (m/f) romance and gay (m/m) romance. At the heart, a romance is a romance. Love is a mystery. Why do two people fit together? And how do they figure it out? To me, a romance is about two people discovering their perfect partner—from first meeting, to getting to know one another, to overcoming obstacles, to realizing they want to be together for life. It’s about the dynamics of their personalities and daily lives and how they fit together. It's about realizing that love is more important than anything else. It’s family and psychology, personal flaws and strengths. It’s chemistry and heat. In the end, very few things in life impact us the way our choice of life partner does. So what could be a more important subject to write about?
How I landed in the m/m genre is a bit of luck and a bit of good casting. My first exposure to m/m was Anne Rice's "Cry to Heaven", which I read in high school and found compellingly unusual and sensual. Later on, there was fan fiction (johnlock and sterek mostly). As a writer, I’ve always been more comfortable with male characters. Never a girly girl, I am sometimes irritated by romance heroines. Bottom line: I find men more interesting creatures and far sexier. So being able to write two male leads works for me on many levels. I also find the social and personal dynamics of being gay interesting. Let’s face it, unless you want to write regency romance, there’s not a lot left in our modern society to keep men and women from doing whatever they damn well please. There are more hoops to jump through, and thus more opportunity for denial, obstacle, and conflict, in a gay relationship. I also like the idea of contributing, however obliquely, to normalizing gay relationships. I am absolutely in favor of gay rights.
As for stigma or literary snobbery, I am old enough to have given up on expecting to rule the world—or the NY Times bestseller list. The fact is, whatever people think of romance, more people read it, and buy it, than any other genre of book. People read it because they enjoy it—it’s an escape, a comfort, entertainment, and a solace. It’s fantasy and an outlet for the love and desire that is often lacking in our 'real lives'. I am honored to provide that for readers.
On to the old and new!
2014: Looking Back
“Stitch” (gothika anthology, my story “Reparation”), Apr 2014 “The Mating of Michael” (Sex in Seattle #3), Jun 2014 “Heaven Can’t Wait” (in Dreamspinner’s Daily Dose), Jul 2014 “Bones” (gothika anthology, my story “The Bird”), Oct 2014 “Unwrapping Hank” (Christmas novella), Nov 2014
Dreamspinner’s author con
“Blame it on the Mistletoe” gets over 2000 rankings on Goodreads
“Unwrapping Hank” hits #1 on Amazon’s gay romance list (briefly, but it was there!)
“The Mating of Michael” wins #1 place in the William Neale Award for Best Gay Contemporary Romance category, 2014 Rainbow Awards and #2 place in “Best Gay Book” overall.
3 audio books published in 2014: “Blame it on the Mistletoe”, “A Prairie Dog’s Love Song”, and “Superhero”.
‘Came out’ as Eli Easton under my writing/game design nom de plume of Jane Jensen
2015: Looking Ahead
I plan to spend more time writing in 2015 since I’ve recently finished a huge work project.
“The Lion and the Crow” (expanded edition), Dreamspinner, Jan 2015 “How to Howl at the Moon” (new paranormal dog shifter series), Love Lane Books, Feb 2015 “Claw” (gothika anthology, my story “The Black Dog”), Apr 2015 A novel for Dreamspinner (TBD-- probably Sex in Seattle #4 or Prairie Dog #2), Aug 2015 “gothika #4” (anthology), Oct 2015 Christmas novella 2015 (Micah Springfield’s story), Nov 2015 “Kingdom Come” (murder mystery set in Amish country from Berkeley’s Prime Crime line),- sometime in 2015
Writing in 2015: Kingdom Come #2, Howl at the Moon #2
Dreamspinner’s author con Rainbow Con Romantic Times
* continue to build name recognition and reader base
* do a better job updating my blog!
* would be lovely to have a #1 on amazon for longer than one day!
That's it for this year's round-up. Please let me know your suggestions and if there's anything you are dying for me to write in 2015!