Is my work ‘problematic’? Addressing gender in my earlier books.

This year I had the opportunity to re-issue two of my first publications with Less Than Three Press: Part of Your World and Beast. Both stories initially appeared in the fifth volume of Fairy Tales Slashed back in 2013. When the editors initially approached me about re-issuing them, I assumed I would do a quick read through for any errors that had slipped through on the first printing and call it a day.

When I read them, however, I was really shocked by what I found.

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Giveaway: The Persephone Star

In advance of the release of my newest novel, The Heart of the Dragon (available for preorder here), I will be giving away 2 PRINT copies of The Persephone Star!

 

PersephoneStar

 

The Persephone Star

A 2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention.

 

As Post Mistress of Fortuna, Penelope Moser knows just about everything about everyone. It’s a job she takes seriously, no matter who comes to pry for gossip, or how unsettling the messages are—but even she is more than a little frightened by rumors that The Persephone Star has been spotted nearby. That means Mirage Currier is out of prison and coming to settle up with the man who put her in jail: Cullen Wiley, Sheriff of Fortuna and Penelope’s fiancé.

The worst comes to pass when Penelope is kidnapped—or so she thinks. But the simple truth she thought she knew starts to unravel, leaving her to choose between the man she promised to marry or the woman destined for the gallows.

F/F

42,000 words/176 pages.

 

What reviewers have said:

 

“A delicious little steampunk tale with a gentle self-discovery story tucked inside. Excellent characters and a rollicking adventure to boot. Fantastic.” Elisa Rolle, Rainbow Awards.

 

“Jamie Sullivan hits another home run.” Wes Kennedy, author of To Terminator with Love.

 

“I love the characters in this book. I’m a sucker for strong, multi-layered characters, and the members of The Persephone Star are strong, independent women, but they all have their reasons for what they do, and I enjoyed reading about their stories as much as following Penelope’s journey.” Leslie Shaip.

 

To enter:

Like and retweet the contest announcement on twitter to be entered – it’s as simple as that. Two winners will be randomly chosen. I will ship anywhere in the world.

Review Roundup: Prom and Other Hazards

My new short story, Prom and Other Hazards (10,000 words) has been receiving some lovely reviews! I’m particularly pleased that readers thought the ending satisfied (I’ve blogged about my worries over endings before…). I’m also super stoked to see that people enjoy stories that deliberately avoid the ‘gay panic’ plotline – this isn’t a drama filled story, but people seem to appreciate that!

Read some reviews below:

THE LESBRARY: “This was a totally approachable piece of contemporary YA f/f with a happy ending, relatable and familiar characters, and girls in formal wear looking stunning…It’s a well-structured short story, with a plot twist that threw me for a loop exactly where it would have if this was a teen movie. Luckily, I knew this was from a LGBTQ+ publisher and I was therefore guaranteed a happy ending! I enjoyed watching the girls conquer the plot.” FIVE STARS

A.M. LEIBOWITZ: “Although the premise isn’t anything really new, it’s the writing style which made me love this story. It’s funny and smart and features an excellent main character. Sam is a delightful narrator, and it’s easy to see why the girls like each other so much. They’re a perfect pair…If you’re looking for a fun, sweet book that will make you smile and say, “aww,” this is the one for you. Very cute!”  FIVE STARS

INKED RAINBOW READS: “It is well written and kept my attention, as Sam was a likeable character dealing with a universal dilemma…This lovely romance was the perfect way to while away an afternoon, dreaming of happy ever afters.” FOUR AND A HALF STA

GOODREADS REVIEWERS:

“Wish this novella was around when I was a teenager, it would have definitely made me more confident back then.” FOUR STARS

“Funny, true to life, with a good sense of voice for the narrator, Sam.” FOUR STARS

“Despite the hazards promised by the title, there’s nothing that can’t be fixed and that is sometimes exactly what you need.” FIVE STARS

“A story that satisfies.” FOUR STARS

 

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Prom and Other Hazards is available here. F/F, 10,000 words, ebook.

Coming Very Soon: Prom and Other Hazards!

My new short story Prom and Other Hazards will be released on June 28th (just eight days from now)! It’s currently available to preorder for the low, low price of $1.35. I’ve just had a look at the final version and fell in love with these characters all over again. I really hope everyone enjoys this one!

The blurb:

Frankly, prom is a ridiculous concept. People at school treat it like its a test run for a wedding, complete with ‘promposals’. That’s not even mentioning the dresses, which look like Disney vomited tulle and sparkles onto the nearest mannequin. Sam wants nothing to do with it.

Except for the tiny fact that she’s been in love with her best friend Tash since they were ten years old, and Tash dreams of a perfect, romantic prom. Sam had given up hope, until she spotted The Suit in a shop window. Sleek, androgynous, and flat out cool—but also way out of Sam’s price range.

But if she can earn the money for the suit, then surely the suit is all she needs to finally admit how she feels and see they both enjoy the perfect prom.

To get you in the mood, here’s a relevant Buzzfeed Article:

Let’s Hear It For All The Badass Ladies Rockin’ Suits At Prom

It’s full of lots of brave and beautiful girls like Sam who weren’t afraid to try something a little different for prom.

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On Success and Sequels

I opened my last quarter’s statement from Less Than Three Press with more than usual excitement. I’m always interested to know how my books are selling, and certainly happy to receive a check, but this time I was excited because the January – March quarter covered the release of The Persephone Star.

In a post from November of 2014, I wrote “I’m more concerned about reviews than sales”, but I’m going to be straight with you: that was in a post in which I was celebrating some pretty great sales numbers. In the first quarter it was out, The Only Way sold nearly 900 copies. It was an amazing feeling to open that statement and see those kinds of numbers.

And I was really hoping the same thing would happen with The Persephone Star.

Only – it didn’t.

Disappointing sales numbers are always going to be disappointing, but I think the real problem here is that in our society we have this notion that success begets success. Once an author has sold well, the reasoning goes, they should keep selling well. After all, surely the same people who bought and loved their last book will buy the new one.

To realize that something is a fluke rather than a trend is a bit hard to swallow.

I had a similar thing happen with my artwork. I was displaying my paintings in a gallery, and selling pretty well every month. And then one month I had fantastic sales – nearly five times my normal numbers! And I thought, ‘this is it! I’ve cracked the market! I’ve found my audience!’

Only, the next month, I barely sold anything. And the month after that, and the month after that. It got so bad that I actually had to pull out of the gallery because I wasn’t even breaking even after paying the gallery fees.

I hadn’t cracked the market – I had a fluke month, and then I flopped. It felt so much worse than if I have never sold well at all. I had to wonder, what happened to my audience? Where did they go?

Unfortunately, I’m feeling a similar way after seeing the numbers on The Persephone Star. I think it’s my best work, but now I’m left second guessing myself. What was it that turned readers off? Was it the genre? The setting? The premise?

I’m trying not to psyche myself out as I work on my next project. I want to write what I love, and hope that other people love it, too. I don’t want to ruin my writing by trying to guess what it is that readers want – I think that’s what happened with my artwork, and I’m still struggling to get back to ‘my’ style when I paint.

I am sad, though, because the main reason why I wanted to see great numbers on The Persephone Star –besides ego—was that I was planning on writing a sequel. But there’s no point writing a follow up to a book that no one’s read, so that idea has been filed away.

To those of you who did read The Persephone Star: thank you. The reviews have been great, and I take a lot of comfort in knowing that these people who did pick up the book seemed to like it.

My new project is really fun, and saving me from a pity party over sales figures. In the end, I have to remember that the number of copies sold of The Only Way is a good thing, no matter what happened afterwards. People like what they like, and I write what I write, and sometimes, miraculously, those two coincide. That’s the important thing to remember.

 

On Writing to Deadlines

Those of you who follow me on twitter might remember that back in January I absolutely SWORE that I was going to get a story done for LT3’s Rough Riders collection – in fact, I went so far as to get an extension on the deadline from LT3, because I was TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY SURE that I could get something done with just a few extra days.

Perhaps needless to say, I did not. I wrote about 9,000 words and then realized that what I had was the beginning to a probably 40k story – not something I was going to be able to bang out in a matter of days.

I really like participating in LT3’s anthologies and collection calls – I’ve done Fairy Tales Slashed (twice!), The Bestiary, Missed Connections, the one about forests (Lovely, Dark, and Deep), the one about suits (Peacock), and Devil’s Land. I think the prompts are a fantastic way to get my creative juices flowing and to experiment with something I might not have written otherwise – for instance, I hadn’t ever thought about writing a Western, but the second the Devil’s Land call came out, a story popped into my head. I knew immediately that it had to be Steampunk, which is also a genre I had never dabbled in before. It got me thinking in a new way, and I absolutely love where the story went from there.

I also like having deadlines to write to – when I’m managing my own time, writing slips down my priority list. My kid, my husband, my job, my friends, my desire to just sit on my couch and watch movies – all of those come first. When I have only an hour to myself at the end of a long day, often writing is the last thing I want to do. Unless I’ve got a pressing deadline.

But – the sad truth is that those deadlines still manage to pass me by. In fact, The Only Way was written for the Proud to be a Fighter collection – but I missed that deadline (BOY DID I EVER), and I also overran the word count limit by … quite a ways (another chronic problem of mine). The good thing is that I kept going even after I knew it wouldn’t end up being part of the collection. Hopefully I’ll do the same with the 9,000 words of urban fantasy biker fiction that I started at the beginning of the year.

Now I’ve got my eye on another collection call – Enemies to Lovers, with a deadline of the end of July. I’m just as overworked and under-rested as I was back in January, but I’m going to give it a go anyway, because enemies to lovers stories are MY JAM. And hey, maybe this time the deadline will work its magic!

Cover Reveal: Prom and Other Hazards

Whoa, dudes. I see it’s been nearly three months since my last post. I am ashamed. The sad truth is that in the last three months I haven’t been doing a whole lot of anything.

Well, that’s not true. I’ve been being run ragged by my job and buying/renovating/moving into a house, not to mention parenting a five year old. But all that means I haven’t been doing a lot of writing.

However, I’m back with some fun news: I just got sent the cover for my story in the upcoming Peacocks collection for LT3. I posted about this story back in October of last year.

And now…drumroll please…

Here’s the cover!

PromandOH.jpg

As usual, the fine folks over at LT3 have done a bang-up job! It’s just the right cute YA vibe for this story.

As a reminder, here’s the blurb:

Frankly, prom is a ridiculous concept. People at school treat it like it’s a test run for a wedding, complete with ‘promposals’. Not to mention the dresses, which look like Disney vomited tulle and sparkles onto the nearest mannequin. Sam wants nothing to do with it … except for the tiny fact that she’s been in love with her best friend Tash since they were ten years old, and Tash wants a  perfect, romantic prom. Sam had given up hope, until she spotted The Suit in a shop window. Sleek, androgynous, and flat-out cool, it might just be the push Sam needs to tell Tash how she really feels.

This story is approximately 10,000 words and will be sold as an individual ebook.

 

All right, that’s all for now. Hopefully the next post won’t be three months from now. Until then!

The Persephone Star is Out Next Week!

The wait is finally over – The Persephone Star comes out next week, on January 13th!

PersephoneStar

I’m incredibly excited for this release. The response to The Only Way was so positive, and I’m hoping that people who loved Hart and Ruby will also love Penelope and Mell.

The historical setting of this novella gave me room to explore some of the issues that women have faced in the past–and continue to face all over the world. More than the story of Mell and Penelope, this is really the story of women finding their strengths in a hostile world.

My first thought when Less Than Three put out a call for Westerns was to take on a classic of the genre–and my mind immediately went to High Noon (1952, starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly).

This film is a fascinating take on the conventions of the Western genre, because it centers around Amy’s (Kelly) Quakerism and consequent pacifism, which is at obvious odds with the ‘wild’ West.

In the climax of the film, Will Kane (Cooper) must choose between his duties to the town as Sheriff and to Amy as his fiancee. Amy, too, must make a choice–between her beliefs and the reality of the world she lives in.

I decided to take the basic set up of the film: A Sheriff preparing for a showdown with a criminal recently released from jail and seeking revenge, and his fiancee who hopes to somehow prevent any violence. But then I thought, what if the Sheriff wasn’t so obviously in the right? What if the criminal had good reason to seek conflict?

In High Noon, Amy realizes the world isn’t black and white. In The Persephone Star, those gray areas are even more prominent. Being a criminal means breaking the law–but what if the laws themselves are wrong?

I’ve already had some positive feedback for the novella. Inked Rainbow Reads has published three reviews, giving it 5 stars, 4 stars, and 4 stars. I’m absolutely thrilled!

Here are some of the lovely things they had to say:

“It is a captivating tale of good, in what ever form that may take, defeating evil.”

“This is a really indulgent, warm hearted novel, one that keeps you entertained from beginning to end.”

You can order The Persephone Star here (and watch this space to find out more about the release of the print version).

 

New Story Accepted For Publication!

I’ve just had the good news that my short story Prom and Other Hazards has been accepted to be part of the Peacock Collection from Less Than Three Press.

The collection is themed around suits, and those who wear them well. I instantly thought of the many beautiful women who look positively dashing in a suit:

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In that spirit, I wrote Prom and Other Hazards:

Frankly, prom is a ridiculous concept. People at school treat it like its a test run for a wedding, complete with ‘promposals’. Not to mention the dresses, which look like Disney vomited tulle and sparkles onto the nearest mannequin. Sam wants nothing to do with it … except for the tiny fact that she’s been in love with her best friend Tash since they were ten years old, and Tash wants a  perfect, romantic prom. Sam had given up hope, until she spotted The Suit in a shop window. Sleek, androgynous, and flat-out cool, it might just be the push Sam needs to tell Tash how she really feels.

This story is approximately 10,000 words and will be sold as an individual ebook.

If what you like from me are cute, non-explicit stories about girls with feeling, then this one will be for you!

The Persephone Star Cover Reveal, and other news!

I’m super thrilled to reveal the cover for my upcoming book The Persephone Star:

PersephoneStar

 

The Persephone Star has been spotted in Arizona Territory, and everyone knows what that means: Mirage Currier’s out of prison and on her way to settle her debt with Fortuna’s sheriff, Cullen Wiley. When Cullen’s fiancée, Penelope Moser, is kidnapped by the crew of the Star, she finds things aren’t quite so black and white. With her sympathies shifting, she must decide whether to remain loyal the man she promised to marry, or save a girl from the gallows.

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I cannot tell you how thrilled I am with how this cover came out. It’s just stunning, and I think the warmth of the colors really reflects the warmth of this story. The Persephone Star is part of Less Than Three’s collection The Devil’s Land, coming soon!

The Only Way

And a quick reminder that The Only Way is available NOW on audiobook. It retails for $17.95.