When Tina first approached me to do a blog about the things I m grateful for, I said yes right away and started to think about exactly what I am grateful for. I am thankful for so many things, but more than anything, the wonderful community of online authors and readers I have found since I started writing M/M erotic romance novels eight and a half years ago.
I often joke that I go back to the age of the dinosaur in publishing and in fact, I sort of do. I had my first newspaper column as a teenager and got a lot of rubbishing from my school friends. It didn’t take long for me to realize it was out of jealousy, but still it hurt. I was in school with the original Mean Girls, and boy did that exercise in human cruelty prepare me for a life as a professional writer!
I wrote my first book when I was eight. My mother died when I was six and her death influenced me greatly. I miss her every day and for a while as a kid, I was obsessed with death. And horses. So my first book was a horse tale where the heroine had a tumor and found she had a year to live. Everybody died at the end, including the horses!
My work has gotten a lot less maudlin since then but I am grateful for all the bumps and bruises I’ve experienced along the way. Without them I’d have no stories to tell.
I had my first book published in 1987 and it was non-fiction. It was a pretty big deal at the time and I was treated to a fabulous book launch by my publishers, and I got to go on a real, live author’s book tour. I am still so grateful I got to experience those things. If I could make one wish come true it would be that every author got to experience the thrill of a real book tour. I still remember every moment of it and my terror when the publisher’s publicist handed me a six page tightly packed roster of interviews. There were TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews scheduled and once again, I got a taste of the jealousy that being a successfully published writer brings. I did an interview with a newspaper reporter I’d once worked with—in fact I gave him his first job!— and he was vicious.
He tore my book apart as he hurled questions at me. It soon became obvious to me he hadn’t even read it. It was a distressing but valuable experience. Most authors have had bad interviews at some point but you haven’t lived until somebody is sitting in front of you saying awful things. To. Your. Face. I panicked about that interview but he ended up not even publishing it, which was a very great favor to me. I’d dreaded what kind of story he’d actually write.
I also had a reporter (who I thought was a good friend) write a scathing critique of my book. I cried when I read it. She actually had a line in there saying “the book won’t give you brain damage but it really isn’t good.” I’m laughing now because when I ran into her at a party weeks later, I put on a brave front and thanked her for her review. “I sold so many copies thanks to you!” I said. You should have seen the look on her face!
I’m also thankful that I got to do edits the old-fashioned way. The publisher sent a messenger service to my house with the galleys, which in those days were massive sheets of paper with your words type-set. They arrived in a huge envelope and there were editing marks and strange numbers all over the pages. I had to go through them, choking back my horror when I saw all the slashes and notes in red ink. I learned early on that edits make our books better and I am thankful for all the good editors with whom I have worked.
Still, nothing in this world could have prepared me for being published online and the pleasures and pitfalls involved with that. I am grateful for all the experiences I’ve had – good and bad – because they’ve all made me a stronger, better, more compassionate person and writer.
I am grateful for all the people who’ve written to me and shared their lives with me. Strangers have touched my life, people I may never meet in person. A few of them have since died. I have kept in touch with many, many people whose real-life problems make me grateful for the life I have. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s mine.
I’ve dealt with real friendship, weird friendships and false ones, too. I’ve had people write gorgeous emails to me, and even a couple of death threats. For the record, I prefer the gorgeous emails. I’ve dealt with shameful thieves in the publishing world, and publishers who tried but couldn’t make a go of this tough business.
I respect those who write and I love those who read. Many years ago I was warned by a teacher in school that writing could never be a chosen profession because books would become obsolete. She also told me I had no talent.
Dear Miss Linda Thomas. What a heinous thing to tell a teenager. I sometimes wonder where you are now and if you have any idea how many kids you devastated?
I am, finally, grateful to you the most because had you encouraged me, or said I had any ability at all, I might have blown off my writing efforts. But we dinosaurs are strong and we mend fast. That’s why, in spite of the sometimes mean emails I get and the often relentless backstabbing in our genre, I am grateful for all of it. I really am. I am here. And I am a writer.
Take that, Miss Thomas. Or whoever your name is now. I hope you are happy and that you, in spite of your crazy prophecies, read. If you ever want to read a book, I can send you a few. I wish you all a year of all good things, including you, Miss Thomas. Hello lesson, thank you teacher.
My latest release:
’Ailani: The Last Warrior: Book 1 Purchase Link: http://www.amberquill.com/store/p/2290-Ailani.aspx
When Lio’s lover Maks cheats on him, he’s forced to give up what he thought was an idyllic romance, including their stunning, scenic Waikiki apartment. He rents a house on the other side of the island that has magical views, so why is it so cheap?
He soon becomes haunted by dreams in which a fearsome yet sexy Hawaiian man begs him to rescue him from the garden. Lio is certain he’s going nuts, until one night in the midst of a tropical rainstorm, he follows the man’s urgings and digs a hole in the yard.
And there, he finds a gigantic, ancient stone statue with scary eyes, a statue that soon gives Lio the power of The Last Warrior...
Gay / Fantasy / Witchcraft / Magic / Paranormal / Series
Extended Novella (37k words)
Extended Novella (37k words)
...Kord was giving me so many mixed signals, or so I thought. Sometimes he reached out to me, then pulled his hand away. I was certain he was staring at my mouth in a hungry way. I sure as hell wanted him to kiss me. He smiled at me a lot. Maybe he was being kind, but I felt certain we were on a date. When he took me to his own home, I didn’t think I was wrong. His beach cottage sat right on the reef, and I was stunned by his uninterrupted view of the ocean.
Kord’s life seemed to be straight out of my childhood. Everything on the walls and sideboards was found art. He’d discovered gigantic shells, sea glass balls, bleached pieces of driftwood that almost looked like antlers. He’d even made a hammock out of an old fisherman’s net.
He showed me his home office, which took up most of the space. He pointed to the garage. “That’s where I build stuff.”
I had a sense he didn’t bring many people here. I almost felt glad I didn’t see any chick stuff. His home spoke of a solitary existence.
“Take a seat.” He pointed outside. I swung in one of the aged rocking chairs on the lanai as he brought me a beer. Longboard. My favorite.
“You had a recent breakup, too,” I said. “Isn’t that what you told Marcella?”
“Sure. It never works out for me with women.” He scowled.
“Why’s that? You’re a great guy. Handsome, hard-working—”
“Thanks. That’s part of the problem. I love to work.”
The words swayed between us like a coconut palm. “I have a hard time with women because…because…”
He didn’t finish the sentence. He didn’t want me to know he was bi. I sensed he didn’t want to give me ideas. It was okay. I didn’t need any. I was too busy licking my own wounds and couldn’t have handled any confusion.
When he dropped me home and kissed me on the lips, I felt my spirit and my body reacting.
“Have a great night,” he said, then watched as I let myself inside Dad’s house.
As I closed and locked the door behind me, I felt something shifting. I couldn’t explain it as I leaned with my back against the blue stained-glass mermaid and felt her coolness seep into my hot skin.
Aaaahhh…something had changed. Something good. I touched my lips. We’d had a great date. No, not a date. He was being kind.
So why did he kiss me?
We’d had a swell time. A gentle time. I hadn’t had such a sweet evening with a man in a very long time. When I’d cleaned my teeth, I fell into bed. I could almost feel his dark hair on my face, his lips on mine. I tasted salty tears. Yeah…something was changing. I didn’t know what.
I dreamed of fishermen’s nets, mad laughter, and mud.
At around three o’clock in the morning, I awoke from a strange dream.
No. They were not coming back. I wouldn’t allow them to come back. Not the dreams. Not those ones. I closed my ears to the voices whispering…
I worked very hard to forget. To think of nothing but the soft press of Kord’s lips, wishing for more. So much more...
A.J. LLEWELLYN is an author of M/M romantic fiction who was born in Australia, and lives in Los Angeles. An early obsession with Robinson Crusoe led to a lifelong love affair with islands, particularly Hawaii and Easter Island.
Being marooned once on Wedding Cake Island in Australia cured her of a passion for fishing, but led to a plotline for a novel. A.J.’s friends live in fear because even the smallest details of their lives usually wind up in her stories. A.J. has a desire to paint, draw, juggle, work for the FBI, walk a tightrope with an elephant, be a chess champion, a steeplejack, master chef, and a world-class surfer. She can’t do any of these things so she writes about them instead.
A.J. I started life as a journalist and boxing columnist, and still enjoys interrogating, er, interviewing people to find out what makes them tick.
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