Writing what you know…

So, one of the cardinal rules of writing fiction is to write what you know – draw on your own knowledge and experiences to help shape your characters and stories. For those of you who have read our stories, you may have noticed that we use a lot of different locations and have characters from a wide variety of occupations and with a varied set of skills. For those who are curious, McKay and I really do draw upon our life experiences for these things.

When it comes to locations, you may have noticed we tend to favor the South. Both of us are born and bred southern girls, so that made it easy. Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Charleston, Richmond and rural Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas… all of these are places we have either lived in or visited, and I think that gives our writing a certain authenticity. My absolute favorite city on the West Coast is San Francisco, so we’ve used that, too. I’ve travelled a lot in the Caribbean, and the locale in Caribbean Blues is based on a place I’ve actually been in Port Lucaya. McKay and I have both been to London, and we’ll probably be including it in something in the future, and since I was raised in Miami, it’s probably only a matter of time until Florida shows up, too.😉

As far as characters, many of ours are based on the types of people we tend to like or be attracted to — yes, there is a reason there are quite a few tall, dark-haired, snarky men in our stories.😀 Some characters are based on real people, both celebrities and people known to us. When it comes to their occupations… well, English professors, engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and yes, even the mercs are familiar to us. I have worked with a great many military people from all branches of the services over the course of my career, so it was easy to bring those characters to life — plus my father was a paratrooper in WWII, and I grew up on his stories of the Pacific theatre. McKay and I are both geek girls, so our nerdier characters have a firm basis in reality.

Aside from personal experiences, good research helps, but I  prefer to use things I actually know. One of the beauties of writing with a co-author is that we both have different experiences to draw upon, so it quite literally doubles our comfort zone. So while neither of us ever has been a gay man (unless there is something McKay hasn’t told me), we hope that the real-life aspects that we bring to our writing accomplish the goal we both have for our writing – to tell a story that will entertain our readers, and bring them back for more.



In a world…

So, today I wanted to talk about finishing what you start.

I think, in the world of writing, this is one of the hardest things to do. I can’t tell you how many stories McKay and I have that we started and either the idea just wouldn’t gel, or the characters wouldn’t speak up — and even, on rare occasions, the characters just wouldn’t get interested in one another no matter how much we tried. I think every writer must have a folder of things that didn’t pan out, and that’s fine. But what do you do when you’re two books into a series of three and the last one refuses to let itself be written?

Fortunately, we didn’t have that happen with Blood Bathory, although I think writing that third book was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. We KNEW how it had to end, of course, because that was obvious, but just because you know where you’re going doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to get there, or how long it will take. Or what unexpected things you might discover along the way.

McKay can correct me, but I think we made something like three or four starts on BB: Be Not Proud before one finally worked. Mostly, it was the characters not coming together properly, which is probably, in my book, the absolute worst thing that can happen. We knew these guys well, but they kept wanting to show unexpected quirks that would cause us to have to go back and rethink where the story was going. And it wasn’t one character, but both of them who did this to us. In the end, we finally did get the dynamic worked out, and I believe the story is actually stronger for all the time we put into writing things that DIDN’T work. But while the act of discovery was working itself out, there was more than one grim moment when I wondered if we might be in danger of committing the cardinal sin of not finishing a series. Thankfully, our sins –thus far — remain only venial.😉

Which brings me to world building. The Blood Bathory universe is a fantastically detailed one, and it sometimes is hard to walk away from something you’ve spent so much time — literally years, in this case — building up. McKay and I both have talked about setting other things in the universe, because we’ve gone to great lengths to create a reality that is logically consistent and self-sustaining. Gaia’s playground is large and varied, and other hazards face the theriomorphs and Dark Guardians.

I hope we do go back and do more with it one day. But for now, I’m just incredibly glad that we have told our story, told it well, and can be proud of what we’ve done.


New release: A Taste of Honey!

atasteofhoney185A Taste of Honey is now available from Torquere Press! We took a break from writing about big, badass mercs to write something a little lighter. A Taste of Honey is more of a romantic comedy set during a Southern family reunion, and we had fun putting a different spin on the “fake girlfriend” trope.

Boone is just trying to avoid his mama’s matchmaking by bringing his crossdressing friend to the reunion, but a glimpse of Rob’s white lace panties makes him question whether he’s as straight as he thought.

This is one of our shorter, lighter works, but it was a fun little palate cleanser after the heavy adventure-and-angst of the Herc’s Mercs series and the third Blood Bathory novel.😉

As Ari posted a few days ago, we’ve got another Herc’s Mercs book in the pipeline. We don’t have a release date for it yet, but we’ll update here when we get it.

Currently, we’re writing an epilogue for The Quality of Mercy, which is a sequel to Finding Forgiveness that focuses on Carlos Hernandez. In Finding Forgiveness, Carlos mentions his regrets over losing a former lover because his eyes and his feet wandered too much, so we’re giving him a chance to try to win back the man he loves. Once we finish the epilogue, that manuscript will be in my editing queue.

Next up, we’re working on a second book for Dreamspinner’s Dreamspun Line with a goal of getting it finished and submitted by June.

After that, we’ve got a holiday story to write, and then it’ll be on to the next book in the Herc’s Mercs series! So many plot bunnies, so little time.

Another Herc’s Mercs, Coming Soon!

Torquere Press has just accepted the latest in the Herc’s Mercs series: Where Angels Fear to Tread!

Lee Albright is a photojournalist who loves traveling and the challenge of his job, but when he’s asked to shoot a calendar for charity, he can’t resist — especially since the photos are of the men of Hercules Security, some of the sexiest hunks he’s ever seen. Things get even better when he meets Mr. July, Geo Kensei, and the instant spark of attraction between them quickly bursts into an all-consuming flame.

Too soon their careers force them to part ways, though they’re both anxious for a quick reunion. Then in the midst of a war-torn city they meet again, and now Geo must use every tool and skill he possesses to get both Lee and his client out of danger. His intense focus on the mission is all that’s keeping the three of them alive, but will seeing the side of Geo that’s a cold, professional killer drive Lee away forever?

Keep an eye on torquerepress.com for all our latest stories!

On Plagiarism

When most people hear the word “plagiarism”, they think of verbatim lifting of sentences, paragraphs, or even entire documents. That kind of copy/pasting is the most common type of plagiarism, and it’s the type that plagiarism checkers are built to catch. But it’s not the only type of plagiarism.

Plagiarism.org offers a fuller definition of plagiarism that includes stealing not only words but ideas, and it specifically references literary theft.

Identifying plagiarism that doesn’t involve word for word copying is tricky when it comes to fiction. After all, “there’s nothing new under the sun” is a cliche that gets bandied around quite often. “A restless and special young man longs for something more than he finds in his mundane life and jumps at the chance for adventure when an unexpected mentor arrives.” Am I talking about Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter?

Using such broad plot points isn’t considered plagiarism because it’s generic enough that you can tweak the details in any original direction you want. But when your details are similar to someone else’s work, well, then you’ve got a potential problem.

Especially when someone can go through your work and find about 20 plot and character related similarities while just skimming. I can’t imagine what might turn up if a close reading was involved, but I’m willing to find out if I have to.

Why yes! We’re dealing with a case of idea plagiarism. We’re not going to name and shame (yet) because we’re trying to reach a resolution through Amazon, which involves generating a lot of documentation to create a solid paper trail. Kristi at Torquere has been really helpful during this process, and we’re grateful for her assistance in this upsetting matter.

I think it’s important to remember that the gay romance novel writing world isn’t that big. We found this person because their work was reviewed, and the description jumped out at us as being similar enough to warrant further investigation. This author is self-published, so perhaps they thought they’d avoid detection because they aren’t affiliated with Torquere Press or Dreamspinner Press, where our work has been published. Or perhaps they weren’t aware that stealing details and specific concepts is considered plagiarism along with stealing words.

I don’t know. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt that they acted out of ignorance rather than malice, but either way, we aren’t going to let it pass unchallenged.

A Taste of Honey pre-order!

A Taste of Honey is now available for pre-order at a 15% discount! If you reserve your copy now, you’ll get it emailed to you a day before the official release date, which is March 9.

Boone Phillips needs a girlfriend and fast! His family reunion is approaching, and if he shows up alone, his mother will throw every woman in sight at him. But the only “woman” Boone trusts enough to ask is Honey, the alter ego of his gay, cross-dressing best friend Rob. Desperate, he begs for Rob’s help.

Rob has doubts about the wisdom of agreeing to help because he’s had a crush on his straight friend for years. After a practice date, however, he decides to go along with the charade, despite the chance that Boone might discover his secret infatuation.

Between nosey relatives, illegal moonshine, and the sight of Rob in white lace panties, Boone starts to wonder if he’s as straight as he’d thought. When an earth-shattering kiss sends Rob running to protect his heart, however, Boone learns some surprising things about both his family and himself. Now he needs to convince Rob to give him another chance, or else his first taste of Honey might also be his last.

A Taste of Honey is 32000 words and currently on sale for $3.39!


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