2017 In Review: What Happened, and What Comes Next

So, before we begin, a little caveat: make sure you read what I'm actually writing in this blog post, and don't try to read between the lines. I'm going to be discussing some changes for my future, and I don't want any assumptions to be made. I'll try to make things explicitly clear, but I know sometimes, people try and figure out all the things I'm not saying.

Cool?

In 2016, I published five full length novels: The Queen & the Homo Jock King, Withered + Sere, Wolfsong, Crisped + Sere, and Murmuration.

In 2017, I published two novellas and three novels: Until You, Olive Juice, A Destiny of Dragons, The Long and Winding Road, and The Consumption of Magic.

Good lord am I tired.

I work hard. I write and edit and promote and post on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Goodreads and here on my website. Like with any job, it's exhausting. I love being a full-time writer. Holy hell, do I love it. Here I am, almost to the end of my second full year writing full-time, and it's only getting better. Gone, I think, is the sort of manic energy I had in 2016, where I was at once excited and terrified that I'd made the biggest mistake of my life. I've sold more books this year than any other before it. Thank you for that. You are helping me do this, and I won't ever forget it.

But Christ, is it a lot sometimes.

Which is why I'm okay with cutting back slightly.

For most of 2016 and large parts of 2017, I was writing 7500-10,000 words a day, four-five days a week. Then I would spend the other days editing what I'd written. I was go go go, sure that I needed more and more in order to stay relevant. After all, with the glut of new authors every day now, if I didn't have something out every few months, how soon would it before it was Tj Klune? Who dat?

It's irrational, but anxiety usually is. I can't do anything about that. It's just how my brain is wired. And while I can't stop it, I can learn how to control it better. I can allow myself to breathe.

Which means I am letting myself take my time. I don't do the 7500 words a day now. My goal is 5000, and if I hit it (which I usually do), great! If I don't (which happens), then it's not the end of the world. Daily word count is a double edged sword for an author. Frankly, it's maddening how much we care about it. It's maddening how much I still care about it.

But I am going through some changes myself. (Not puberty. I already did that.) I began 2017 with the idea of doing something different. Of working toward something more. Not because I wasn't happy with what I already had, but because I wanted to try new things. Those who read my work know that I don't write in a specific sub-genre. I bounce around all over the place. A lot of this is to stave off boredom and getting stuck in a rut, but it's also because I want to challenge myself to write different things or in different styles.

I'm always looking for ways to expand upon my craft. (Another thing an author loves to talk about--technique. Don't worry; this isn't that.) I want to find new ways to tell a story, or to try new genres.

Which is why I'm going to be publishing less with Dreamspinner.

(Remember what I said at the beginning? No assumptions, please.)

Oh, I'm still going to be writing MM romance. That's not going to change. We need queer characters falling in love now more than ever, and I love adding my own spin to this genre filled with great authors. But I'm experiencing some growing pains, and I need to find a place where I fit a bit better. DSP is amazing. The people are awesome. They have given me much. That is not up for debate.

But I want to try something different.

I have three books out next year. Two of those books--A Wish Upon the Stars and Ravensong will be published with DSP. The third book, The Bones Beneath My Skin, will not be. I have a graphic novel under construction that will be published elsewhere too, possibly in 2018, maybe 2019.

As some of you know, the biggest change for me in 2017 was that I recently signed with a literary agency after completing my first Young Adult MM book. This will be published elsewhere too. I am not giving up writing books for adults. This is just me trying something different. I'm excited about the possibilities that it could open up for me.

Things are changing, yes, but I think (hope) they're good changes. I'm tired, but it's a good tired. I have a notebook absolutely filled with ideas of what I want to work on (a western, a space opera, a spin on Isaac Asimov's Laws of Robotics in a retelling of Pinocchio, Corey/Kori, and many, many more). I'm not worried about running out of ideas. I'm just thinking of my future, and what I want it to be.

And I'm inviting you all along for the ride.

2017 has been my biggest year yet.

I can't wait to show you what I have in store for 2018 and beyond.

It's gonna be awesome.

Talk soon,

tj

 

 

 

Consumption: The Last Discussion

First things first, The Consumption of Magic is out Monday the 20th, so it's almost time. Here is where you can buy it on pre-order:

Dreamspinner: https://goo.gl/MfRGML

Amazon: https://goo.gl/odGjNW

B&N: https://goo.gl/pWZdd3

Kobo: https://goo.gl/3FTm81

Also, I know the audiobooks aren't up yet, but I don't have control over how long it takes to upload to Audible. As soon as I know, you'll know.

Okie doke.

The rest of this post is going to be some bits and pieces to help wrap up the Consumption arc of blogs, and it's going to be the last time I talk about the book for now. Starting on October 5th, I've written five fairly lengthy posts on what to expect, what went into the book, and what's to come. Typically, I do a post-release discussion of a book, but I'm not going to do that here. I'm just going to let it...be, for a little while. I'll come back in February into the lead up to the last book, A Wish Upon the Stars, which is scheduled for March, but nothing else until then. I want to give you all a chance to speculate on your own, to come up with your own ideas about what's will happen next. I think, sometimes, knowing the hows and the whys, at least right away, can take away from a bit of the magic.

You've probably noticed how I haven't released any excerpts. Dreamspinner has one up on their website, and it's up to you if you want to read it. I would suggest not, but I won't stop you. I haven't released excerpts because you know these characters by this point. You know how the think and talk and act. I don't need to introduce you to them. At this point, I think any excerpt could just lead to spoilers, so I decided to just avoid it all together.

This is going to be a big book, and not just in terms of length. Many things happen in this story. You will laugh and cry and jump for joy and probably want to throw the book across the room a time or two. Everything that happens in Consumption happens for a reason, and is part of a bigger plan. I don't know that I've ever had such a detailed outline on a book and/or series before. It was a little overwhelming, when I first started these three books, and I don't now why I ever thought I could have written it in just two. But I needed to make sure that I got it right. As you know, these are different books than Lightning was. The last book, out next year, is also different than Consumption and Destiny. You'll find out why soon enough.

And it bears repeating: this book ends on a cliffhanger. A Wish Upon the Stars is already written, and only has one more round of edits before it's complete for March, so you won't have long to wait. The blurb for that last book is at the end of Consumption. Don't flip to it first. It is spoilery. You will feel like punching yourself in the face if you ruin Consumption for yourself. This ending wasn't because I ran out of story and decided to just end it where I did. No, it's far more nefarious than that. It ends where it does because I'm a dick, and the blurb is at the end because it's strategic. It tells you what to expect, and you're going to go nuts.

(And no, I won't be laughing at you. Why, that would just be mean. What kind of person do you think I am?)

(heh.)

I've used the villains of this series sparingly so far. I'm always of the mind that the less you see of the bad guys, the more effective they become. If you look back at A Destiny of Dragons, Myrin barely has any lines in the book, most of which come at the end. He's in Consumption even less. But every scene he's in is important. It means something when he shows up. He's dastardly, he's evil, but I also hope you see him as a tragic figure. I truly believe, deep down, he's not completely bad. But I think he's too far gone to ever come back. You'll learn things in Consumption about him, and about his relationship with Morgan and Randall. I honestly felt sad about their backstory. Randall has always been this enigmatic, gruff figure, Morgan the serene, gentle mentor. But they have had a hard life, losing the one person that meant the most to both of them. But they are strong, far stronger than even Sam knows. He'll find out soon enough.

I'm excited for this book. It has some of the biggest action scenes of the series, some of the funniest moments. We'll get to go to places that in the past have only been discussed (Castle Freeze Your Ass Off comes to mind) and see the return of some characters we were introduced to in Lightning, but sat out Destiny.

The Consumption of Magic also has some of my biggest ideas: on the power of friends and family and the choices we make to keep them safe. It all comes down to just how far Sam will go in order to do what he must.

Because the prophecy, no matter how much he fights it, must be fulfilled.

On Monday, November 20, I will invite you back to Verania to see what tricks I've got up my sleeves.

And I promise you this: you are in for a wild ride.

I hope you're as excited as I am!

talk soon,

tj

 

 

The Bird and Sam of Wilds

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First things first:

In case you missed my announcement earlier this week, the audiobook for A Destiny of Dragons narrated by Michael Lesley and the audiobook for The Long and Winding Road narrated by Sean Crisden are both finished and being uploaded to Audible. They should be available shortly.

Second, The Consumption of Magic is now available for pre-order everywhere.

Pre-Order Links:

Dreamspinner: https://goo.gl/MfRGML

Amazon: https://goo.gl/odGjNW

B&N: https://goo.gl/pWZdd3

Kobo: https://goo.gl/3FTm81

 

Cool? Cool.

Spoilers for The Lightning Struck Heart and A Destiny of Dragons. If you haven't read either, I would move on until you have. I will not be spoiling anything for The Consumption of Magic.

In The Lightning-Struck Heart, Sam makes an oblique reference to having once brought a bird back to life. In A Destiny of Dragons, the story opens with that exact scene. We see Sam as a morose teenager, convinced that Ryan Foxheart (the dreamiest dream who has ever been dreamed) is in love with the evil Prince Justin. He comes across a dead bird in the Dark Woods, and somehow, is able to bring it back to life.

There is a cost, however. The life is burned out from the earth around him.

And he never told anyone about it.

With The Consumption of Magic, I wanted to delve deeper into that moment, and what it means for Sam of Wilds. He's been told time and time again that he's the most powerful wizard in an age. What does it mean to have that kind of power? And even if one were capable of doing something so remarkable, what gives one the right to even use it?

I know this sounds dire. Much ado has been made so far about what happens in this book, either by my own hand leaving cryptic clues, or by the people who've already read it. There are some big events that occur in Consumption, yes; I'm not going lie about that. However, I don't want people to read this just to get to those events. This book--roughly the same length as Destiny--is still about Sam and his somewhat purposefully cliched Hero's Journey. There are moments that you won't see coming, but these characters are still going to be the ones you read about in Lightning and Destiny.

And while Destiny had the idea of a prophecy hanging over Sam and Company, in Consumption, Sam is more settled in his role in the scheme of things.

Well. Mostly settled. He wouldn't Sam of Wilds if he didn't bitch about something.

But since he's starting to accept his role in his destiny, he is becoming more take-charge. Oh, yes, the secrets he's kept will come to light, and he will have to answer for his hypocrisy. But the point of this is that I needed him to learn from his mistakes. I think Consumption is where clear growth is seen in Sam, and the man/wizard he'll eventually become.

But there is still the question of that bird, and what role Sam's magic will play--if any at all--in the visions Vadoma showed him. I consciously made the decision for Consumption to put the idea of the prophecy almost at the periphery. Yes, we know what Vadoma showed Sam, and yes we know the warning the Star Dragon gave of what is to come. Yes, we know why Sam is collecting all the dragons, and yes there is the Big Bad lurking out there somewhere, but at it's core, Consumption is about Sam and Ryan and TIggy and Gary and Justin. It's about Morgan and Randall. I liked the idea of these two groups of people being generations apart from each other, but seeing all the little connections they have despite the years between them.

Again, as I reiterated with Destiny, Consumption is still first and foremost a comedy. I will even go out on a limb and say that Consumption, for the most part, feels lighter than Destiny did. And while we may not have Ruv and Vadoma and Zero Ravyn Moonfire as we did in Destiny, there will be a few new characters I think will stack up just as well.

The two Northern Dragons were such a joy to write. I can't say why obviously, but I think you'll be able to tell that I had a blast with them.

And we will come face to face with the oldest creature in all the world in the flesh for the first time. The Great White. And he's probably not going to be as you expect.

(Also, Mama returns, as does Dimitri, so.)

But make no mistake: Sam did bring that bird back to life. He has that power within him. And I will use a phrase you probably have never heard before in your entire lives: with great power comes great responsibility. The big question behind Consumption that I wanted to answer (aside from what exactly the title means), is what Sam of Wilds would do if there ever came a moment when he had to make a choice whether or not to use the magic he carries inside.

I think the answer is going to surprise you.

In eleven days, I'll invite you back to Verania, and you'll learn that answer for yourself.

On Monday, November 13th, I will post an interview I did with Gay Book Reviews where I face a barrage of questions from people who have already read the Consumption. I was very careful with what questions I approved and answered as to avoid spoilers.

And I will post one more blog next week ahead of the release discussing heroes and villains.

The Consumption of Magic will be released Monday, November 20th.

talk soon,

tj

 

 

 

Sex in Verania: The Ins and Outs (Ha!)

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So, before we begin, a warning: I am going to be frank here in my opinions. Apparently some people don't like that. If you are one of those people who don't like authors having opinions, please click the back button, and I'll see you for next week's blog post. No hard feelings.

For those still reading, welcome. I appreciate it. However, it's not necessary to do the whole they don't know what they're talking about! comment thing. You'll know what I mean in a moment.

Cool?

Cool.

I've sat on this topic for a long time, unsure if I was actually going to write about it or not. I didn't it to come across that I was bitching about something, because I'm really not. This is meant to be some insight in the behind-the-scenes aspect as to why certain things happen. But now we are a few weeks out from Consumption, and I decided to just lay it all out.

Here we go.

I love receiving messages from readers. Those that take the time out of their day to write to me thoughts on books or whatevs means a  lot to me.

However.

For some reason, I've somehow managed to give off the vibe that some people can write to me to complain about my books. I don't know why that is, but I usually say  fuck it and don't respond. What's the point? It usually only happens once every couple of weeks, and it's easy to ignore it. There are those first world problems again that I seem to have.

But something recently stuck out to me.

On the same day last year, shortly after the release of Wolfsong, I received two separate messages, one through email, the other through FB messenger.

The email asked me why I had to put "porn" in a fantasy book like The Lightning-Struck Heart. "Porn isn't necessary in books," they wrote.

A couple of hours later, I received a FB message asking me why I didn't write more sex scenes in books, that the reader was "okay" with my stories, but wished they had more "steam."

Normally, I'm able to do what I mentioned previously: say fuck it, delete the messages, and move on with my day.

But for some reason, this bothered me. I've been around long enough to have thick skin, but I was having an off day, and it rubbed me the wrong way. Here were two different people with completely contradictory points about my writing.

I didn't respond to either, because I don't know that I could have remained cordial. I even felt bad that I was annoyed, but it didn't make my irritation stop.

I was in the middle of writing The Consumption of Magic. And I was still deciding if a sex scene was even necessary and if so, where I would put it. A lot of stuff happens in Consumption. Big, big stuff. Would any sex scene need to be more towards the beginning? Or maybe closer to the end? Would it even add anything to the story? I hadn't decided.

But after getting those two messages almost back to back, I made a decision.

I was going to write a vindictive sex scene for Sam and Ryan.

I was going to make it fully involved, intricate, and the most explicit thing I'd ever done.

And then I was never going to do anything like it again.

Spiteful? Yeah. Immature? Probably. But those messages just hit me on the wrong day at the wrong time. I've never been known for my sex scenes. To me, sex is almost the least important part of my books. And no, it has nothing to do with me being asexual.

There are some very good sex-scene writers out there, done in books that are not considered erotica. There are some tremendous erotica writers out there who can do marvelous things with dicks in butts. It's just never been my thing.

I was reading an article by a film critic earlier this year who said that he thought sex scenes in films were, for the most part, unnecessary. In summation, he asked what was the point of a sex scene in a movie that actions and dialogue couldn't show you? Why did people need to see simulated sex in a film?

I have nothing against sex. I have nothing against erotica. I have nothing against pornography. I'm good with people who like sex in their books/films/lives/whatever. I'm just peachy with people who don't.

But it has never been my thing. I've talked about this before, but sex scenes in my books aren't ever going to be the focus. At most, there will probably be a single sex scene in a story of mine, if even that. I wish I'd never written a sex scene in Into This River I Drown, but I thought I had to in order for it to be published or considered a romance (and no, the publisher never said anything like that to me--just my own baseless assumption) or for people to even read it. It's probably the one thing I'd want to change out of any of my books.

Back to Consumption.

I figured out where the sex scene would go. And I went to town. Just because I don't write multiple and/or explicit sex scenes in my books doesn't mean I don't know how. I do. I know how sex works. I've had it before.

I wrote the longest, filthiest sex scene I'd ever written in my life. By the time I was done, I felt better. I was, of course, going to immediately delete it and write something much tamer, but still. It felt good.

And then I thought those two words I think sometimes that usually ends up with me getting into trouble or writing a book about werewolves, even though I told myself I never would.

Two words:

What if?

What if I kept it in? What if I left it exactly as it was? What if, what if, what if.

In the end, I kept it.

Look, folks. I love you. Thank you for buying my books. Thank you for helping me to continue to do this thing I love so much. I am literally doing my dream job, which is something many people don't get to say. I am humbled by the position I'm in, and I am grateful for it.

That being said, I do not write to order. I don't write what people tell me to. I never have, and I'm not going to start now. The only reason this sex scene exists was because of I was having a bad day. (Apparently, when I'm annoyed and need to write an explicit sex scene, my mind goes to double penetration, and so that's what I did--I don't even know.)

You wish my books had more sex?

That's okay!

You wish my books had no sex?

Hey, dude, you do you, and that's good too.

I just wish the focus wasn't always about how much sex a book has (or doesn't have) in it. I know I write in the romance genre, but why does sex have to equal romance? Why does any sex at all automatically have to equal "porn"? I am aware I won't ever please everybody (that would be a weird day), or that I won't ever win with certain people. Even now, I am sure some are reading this and wondering where I get off (ha!) sounding so high and mighty, though that isn't anywhere near my intention. I am just trying to explain why this specific scene exists at all.

The sex scene is almost (I think) seven thousands words long for those who want it.

For those that don't, it's in Chapter 7 which is titled Don't Read This at Work or Church (Because of Butt Sex).  Yes, I love writing chapter titles for this series almost as much as the stories themselves.

For those that don't give a shit one way or another, hey. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. (ha!)

Next week, I'll talk about Sam and that little bird in the forest that he brought back to life. Just because you can do something, does it mean you should? Sometimes, true power is not doing the thing you want most. See you then.

Pre-Order (only at DSP for now):

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-consumption-of-magic-by-tj-klune-9026-b

Thanks,

tj

PS: No, I still don't have a release date for the audio of A Destiny of Dragons. When I know, you'll know. It'll be worth the wait!

 

 

 

The Prince Justin Conundrum and Other Stories

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November 20th is going to be a pretty big day for me. Not only is it the second (third?) book of the Destiny Fuck Yeah! trilogy (quadrilogy?), but it's the last book I'm releasing this year.

Since I became a full time author in February 2016, I have released 9 books. The Consumption of Magic will be my tenth. For some context, I have published 20 books total, with Consumption being my 21st. Which means I have published half of my total catalogue in less than two years. It's crazy, right?

But it's also a lot of work. God bless those that are more prolific than I. I have no idea how they do it, and I'm impressed by them.

Which is why I've made a decision. I'm not burnt out on writing (good god, I tell myself I deserve a break after finishing a book, yet almost always start the next one right away), but I am a little tired of edits and promotion and all that it entails. (First world problems, right? Yeah, I am aware of how it sounds. I'm just trying to make sure you know I'm tired, but it's a good kind of tired.)

I've made the decision to cut back slightly (don't panic!) in that I'll only publish three novels next year. March will bring A Wish Upon the Stars, the last book in the Destiny Fuck YEAH!...whatever it is. It will also be the last book from Sam's perspective. I think I want to tell one more Verania story, that of Prince Justin (more on him in a bit). I think it'll be a nice bookend to the series, as I plan on going back to the irreverence of the first book for Justin.

After that in July will be Ravensong. packpackpack

And then next fall, I will be self-publishing The Bones Beneath My Skin. I took some very interesting meetings at Gay Rom Lit last week, one of which with a narrator I haven't used before that I will be hiring for Bones. (Hint, his name rhymes with Meg Bremblay). We are going to try something...different, with this release. But since we're still a ways off from it, I'll just leave it at that.

So. Three books.

Scratch that. Three huge books. A finale of lightning, a continuation of wolves, and something new.

(also, potentially, an original graphic novel on a new story I wrote.)

(and there' also still my superqueero young adult book, currently with my agent. Heh. I just like saying that. My agent. But that book probably won't be until 2019).

(and there's Normal Person 2, which I am currently writing.)

I'm not going to say I've saved the best for last this year with Consumption. I think that might be a little cliched (especially since I usually say something similar with each year-ending release, so).

But I will say that The Consumption of Magic, which picks up early on right where A Destiny of Dragons left off, is going to bring big, big changes to Verania. It was always planned this way. I knew this ending from the moment I sat down to write Destiny. You won't see it coming.

But enough with the dickish teasing.

Let's talk the Grand Prince of Verania.

In The Lightning-Struck Heart, Justin was a douchebag. He was the jerk standing in the way between Sam and Ryan's happily ever after. And I think it was very easy to hate him, or to write him as a one note-villain. But even back then, even when Sam and Ryan were clueless idiots all the way up to the wedding of the Prince and the knight, I liked Justin. He was an asshole, sure, but who isn't? And even though there was no romantic love between him and Ryan, I still felt bad for how things ended up for him.

So when I started writing the Destiny Fuck Yeah! cycle (god, I really should have picked just one term, for fuck's sake), I knew I needed to make Justin more sympathetic than he'd been in Lightning. I wasn't necessarily thinking of writing his own book, but more so that I loved the idea of Sam and Justin being friends. Prickly characters who pretend to hate everything even though we all know it's bullshit is my jam. It wasn't that he needed to be redeemed per se, but that I wanted to see a bit more of the man behind the princely crown.

And then I immediately sidelined him for most of Destiny.

I couldn't justify him going on the adventure to find Zero, the desert dragon, no matter how much I wanted to. Add in the fact that multiple major characters were introduced, so there was a chance that Justin would have gotten lost in the shuffle. Instead, I laid the groundwork for Justin, knowing it wouldn't be until Consumption that it would begin to pay off.

Justin will be in most of Consumption. The same goes for the last book. I think he's the perfect foil for Sam. And no matter how much he acts like he doesn't, I truly believe he cares about Sam and Company.

I just needed to figure out how to show it.

He'll be back with the group in a major way in the opening chapters of Consumption. He helps set up an important arc for Sam and Ryan that starts here and goes through A Wish Upon the Stars. That isn't to say he's only a crutch for them; he's not. I did my best to make him a fully realized character who has the weight of his future on his shoulders. Though the good King will be around for years and years, Justin will still one day take his father's place as the ruler of Verania. That would be a lot for anyone to handle.

What I didn't want was for him to be incompetent. He's not. He is intelligent and somewhat ruthless, though I think he's learning that watch out for those he might step on. He's knows exactly what's expected of him. And for the most part, he's okay with it. But he's still young and relatively sheltered. The world of Verania is a wide and weirdly wonderful place, and there's so much he hasn't seen.

I love Justin dearly. I think the arc he has here shows that. Justin will have his own book, though his love interest isn't introduced in either of the remaining novels. I wanted the focus to be where it should: the destiny of Sam of Wilds, and his band of merry misfits who bumble along, trying to save Verania. But it will be....clear, by the last page of A Wish Upon the Stars what direction I'll be going with him. It's only a few short sentences in the last paragraph, but you'll know it when you read it. It may take some time for me to get back to Verania to write that story, but I'll get there eventually.

I'm proud of the story told in Consumption. While I won't say I've saved the best for last (your mileage may vary on that statement), I will say that Consumption has some gnarly moments that I had been waiting months to write. It's funny and action-packed and sad and ridiculous and things will happen that you won't see coming, things that will change Verania forever.

Some stuff to expect:

More of Morgan and Randall's shared history with the villain Myrin will be revealed. It goes far deeper than Sam knows.

Sam will be held accountable for the secrets he's kept. One thing that irritates me to no end is when a character does something stupid, and isn't held accountable for his actions. Glossing over something so serious doesn't bode well for the story. While Sam had his reasons, it doesn't absolve him of what he did. He's a hypocrite, especially in the face of his anger toward Morgan and Randall for their secrets. This will be acknowledged and worked through.

Two new characters will be introduced, the mated Northern Dragons. As with Zero, they will have their own distinct personalities. They are...different.

As I mentioned in a previous post, since this book is the middle of what is essentially one, long story, I was aware of there being a lag. This isn't the beginning. This isn't the end. This is right in the middle, and I made the conscious decision to attempt to avoid the trappings of being in the bridge. Consumption has some of the biggest action scenes, the longest sex scene I've ever written, and some twists that you won't see coming.

By the time a reader finishes Consumption, I want them to have run through an entire gamut of emotions.

I want you to laugh. And gasp. And suffer from the affliction known as Wookiee Cry Face. Consumption, though the middle child, tells it's own story.

And goddamn, I can't wait for you to read it.

In the next blog post, I'll discuss sex and Verania, and the situation I find myself in with different types of readers.

The Consumption of Magic (an explanation as to the meaning of that title will be explained almost immediately in the book, and man, is it gonna suck) is coming on November 20th. Pre-order is already up at Dreamspinner, and I've linked it below. It'll be up on other sites probably next week.

(Yes, Michael will be doing the audiobook. No, I don't know when it'll come out. Yes, his narration for A Destiny of Dragons will be here soon. No, I don't know the exact date.)

tj

Dreamspinner Pre-order: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-consumption-of-magic-by-tj-klune-9026-b

 

 

 

GayRomLit

Hey, all!

I wanted to drop a quick line about the GayRomLit convention, and what to expect if you're a newbie, and what my schedule will be like.

First and foremost, you are there to interact with the authors! It's probably the biggest reason why you're going. But I can't tell you how many times I've heard from people after conventions that they were too nervous to come talk to me, and that's a shame. I promise I don't bite, and will be just as excited to meet you. If you see me, feel free to stop me and say hey. I'm also okay with fist-bumps, high-fives, and hugs.

If we've met before, chances are (unless we've had continued interaction) I probably won't remember your name. Don't be offended! I'm terrible with names. Faces, sure, but names always escape me.

(And as a sidenote, make sure your nametag is facing the right direction so I can check it when signing books. I don't went to misspell, and it's easier for me to see it right in front of me.)

Another big thing: if you attend panels or q&a's, and there is a question you want to ask, DO NOT ASSUME SOMEONE ELSE WILL ASK THE SAME QUESTION. Seriously. Speak up, especially at Q&A's. I'm there to answer your questions about my books and what I'm writing. Another thing I hear often is that someone wanted to ask a question, but didn't do it in the end because they thought someone else would ask. Never assume, and remember, the Q&A's are only 15 minutes long, and will go by really fast.

Ihope you all have a blast! It usually turns out to be pretty great. This will be my fifth GRL, and my return after taking a break from it last year. For the most part, people there are pretty cool, and are there because they love reading the same things you do.

Where you can find me:

Wednesday, Oct 18th: I will be moderating the Audiobook Narrator Panel from 9pm-11pm in the Evergreen Ballroom. I'm really excited about the panelists we have, and it'll be great to have them all in the same room at the same time. The panel will consist of each narrator giving a reading from one of their books before moving into a Q&A for the remainder of the panel. Make sure to ask the questions so I don't have to! (because I have a list, and I will read from it.)

I will not be attending the opening night festivities on Thursday. This is my decision, as I'm not comfortable with the fact that instead of the sole focus being on queer literature (hence the title of the convention), the organizers of GayRomLit have decided to bring in a gay porn company to do a Q&A and to promote a new film. This wasn't revealed until a week or two ago. Had I known when signups for authors occurred last spring, I would not have attended this year. I have nothing against pornography, but I do believe there is a time and place for it. A queer literary book event, in my opinion, is not it. I have spoken with quite a few people on the matter, some seeing no problem with it (kudos!), and others uncomfortable as I am. Aside from the obvious issue, the fact that there is no other event scheduled at the same time for those who don't wish to go to this is rather disconcerting. In my experience of meeting readers at GRL, many are stepping out of their comfort zones by even coming to the convention, and some are even attending by themselves. The fact that this is the only option for people who paid to attend seems to be an oversight on the part of the organizers.

This is, of course, my own personal choice/opinion, and should in no way stop you from attending any and all events that you wish! It is your hard earned money you're spending to be in Denver. I merely felt it needed to be said that this seems to no longer be just about books.

(Yes, I am aware some authors have some of the actors as cover models. No, that doesn't change my opinion. Yes, I am aware that there were strippers are previous GRL events. No, that doesn't change my opinion. Yes, I am most likely aware of whatever argument you might want to try and levy against my thought process. No, that doesn't change my opinion.)

Friday, Oct 20th: My Q&A is bright and early. I will be on at 9AM in Evergreen Ballroom C. This is your chance to ask the questions you've always wanted to ask me. Don't let the chance go to waste! There may even be a surprise announcement or two...

Later that morning, from 11-1145am, I will be at the author lounge in the Evergreen Ballroom Foyer. Come chat!

Saturday, Oct 21st: From 10am-1230pm, I will be signing books at the big book signing event.

I will also be manning the Dreamspinner book table at random times on Thursday and Friday, so we may see each other.

I hope to see you all there, and for those that are not in attendance, we will most likely be livestreaming the Audiobook panel and my Q&A, so please check my Facebook page during the times I've listed above. All times are US Mountain time zones.

 

thanks!

 

tj

The Consumption of Magic Cover Reveal

So, here we are, a few days early. My initial plan was to reveal the cover for the next book in the Tales from Verania series next week, but apparently it's already being uploaded for pre-order at certain places, and so I'm going to do this now.

The Consumption of Magic is....big. Not just in terms of length, but in terms of the story. As I've said previously, these books will always be first and foremost comedies, but they turned into something more than that, at least to me. What happens here in this next book will change the course of Verania for a long time to come.

Since this is the middle book of a trilogy (or the third book of a quadrilogy--I don't even know anymore), there's always worry of a lag. It's not the exciting beginning. It's not the the thrilling conclusion. It's the middle part where things happen that build off of what has come before and lead toward the inevitable ending, but doesn't quite get there.

I worried about that, vaguely. But then I realized that if I wrote it as best I could, it would be able to stand on its own. And so I set out to write the best middle I could. It's not the beginning. It's not an ending, though for some characters, it might feel like one. I said once that A Destiny of Dragons was a setting up of a chessboard for a game. The Consumption of Magic is me realizing I don't want to play that game and knocking the chessboard and its pieces off the table. I wrote this book with the intention in mind of literally making people gasp by the time they reached the end. I think I've succeeded in that.

I. Am. So. Damn. Excited.

So, let's do this, shall we?

Pre-orders should be up soon. I'll post them when they are.

Also! If you had joined the Klunatics Facebook group, you would have gotten to see this cover first a few weeks ago! Make sure to join the group to get insider info, and first looks at blurbs/covers/and release dates! Klunatics: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1965358187044020/

On November 20, I'll invite you back to Verania to witness the next step in the destiny of Sam of Wilds.

I hope you're ready.

Blurb:

Sam of Wilds faced the Dark wizard Myrin and lived to tell the tale. Granted, the battle left him scarred, but things could be a hell of a lot worse.

It's not until he reunites with Morgan of Shadows and Randall that he realizes just how much worse things could be.

Because the scars have meaning and hint at Myrin's true plans for Sam and the Kingdom of Verania.

With time running out, Sam and his band of merry misfits--the unicorn Gary, the half-giant Tiggy, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart, and the dragon known as Kevin--must travel to the snowy mountains in the North and the heart of the Dark Woods to convince the remaining dragons to stand against Myrin. Along the way, Sam learns secrets of the past that will forever change the course of the future.

A reckoning is coming for Sam of Wilds, and there is nothing he can do to stop it.

 

Cover by Paul Richmond:

 

ConsumptionofMagic[The]3.jpg

Saying Goodbye Part 3: The End

Spoilers for the entire BOATK series, so read at your own risk.

First thing: if you follow me on Facebook, you'll probably notice I've been posting less and less. Part of it has to do with the fact that I've been busy as of late, trying to finish one book so I can get to another, and editing two full novels.

But it's also because I've been mostly posting in a new reader group called Klunatics that some awesome people created. In a short time, it's grown to over 500 members, and is a positive place for me to post, and for people to talk about my books, or other books/authors in MM. We have contests, group reading, and a bunch of stuff for people to interact with. Right now, there is a contest going on where I'm giving away a Kindle Paperwhite. I will be posting there more from this point on, so if you want the latest news, I recommend joining. No one should be automatically added to the group (I hate it when that happens from others), so I'll post periodic reminders the group exists in case you'd like to join. Link is below.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1965358187044020/?ref=bookmarks

Now, on to the rest.

I could write more about Bear, Otter and the Kid. I really could. If I sat down and pushed myself, I could probably come up with a handful of plots for what would happen next. Hell, the ending of The Long and Winding Road is the perfect setup, right? Lily and Noah as teenagers, Noah coming out and has a crush on a friend of his who probably likes him back.

I'm not going to, though.

I know that's not what people want to hear. Even with me definitively saying that this is the end, I've been asked if I meant it, and how easy it would be for me to write another book. Especially since I've now caved and decided to write a sequel to another book I said I'd never do: How to Be a Normal Person.

But this really is the end. And this is going to be the last full post I do on these books.

(Unless, of course, in the year 2061, I decide to write a retrospective on the 50th anniversary of Bear Otter and the Kid. Weirder things have happened, right?)

I love these characters more than you could ever know. They have been with me for a long time. With them, as in my own life, I have lived and loved and lost. Six years ago, the first book was published. It was longer than that that I started actually writing them. And since it all began, I have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. No matter what happens in the future, my journey in this weird, wonderful world of publishing started with them.

But it also needed to end.

Look. The Long and Winding Road is mostly self-indulgent. Let's be frank about that and get it out of the way up front. I wrote it because I wanted to, because I could. If life hadn't gotten so terribly skewed, it probably would have come out a year or two ago. But life is different now than it was when The Art of Breathing was released 2014. It took me a long time to find my footing with any story again, much less this one.

But make no mistake, this book exists because I could write it. I was in a position to know it would most likely sell well, and that people were clamoring for it. I am very fortunate in that regard, and don't take that notion lightly.

That doesn't mean I took the story any less seriously. Regardless of what else I write, people will most likely associate these books with me first for the rest of my career. And just because I could be self-indulgent about it didn't mean I wasn't still going to write the best story I knew how. Having a lackluster finale could potentially spoil an entire series.

Still, you can't please everyone. Some people hate the first book, and like the others. Some people only like book 3. Still others liked the original covers and tweeted me how they didn't like that I'd had them updated.

(Side note for aspiring authors: you can't win with everyone ever. Seriously. Get that thought out of your head right now.)

I wrote The Long and Winding Road for me. I told the story I wanted to tell. Sometimes, I think we often forget ourselves as authors and try to write what we think people want to read.  I know I've done that before. Pandering can make for lazy writing.

And since I was writing for me, I thought about the level of angst I was going for in the book. As I've said previously, it was going to be hardcore, man. Creed and Anna divorcing! Pregnancy complications! Bear and Otter relationship issues as Otter was going to be the stay at home dad and Bear would later resent him for it!

And I started writing with this intent. Part I (Past) has a good amount of angst, and it was only going to escalate from there.

But by the time I finished Part I, I was exhausted, and I asked myself why. Why do their lives always have to be hard? Why do I keep flinging shit at them? Why do they need to hurt for me to think it's good writing?

The truth is they don't.

So I didn't. I revamped plans, and took away some of what I thought was just overkill. Creed and Anna didn't need to divorce to be relevant. Bear and Otter don't need to argue about who gets to be the person that stays home to make a good story.

And there doesn't need to be pregnancy complications. Shortly before I made that decision, a friend of mine had a miscarriage. She was forthright and frank about how it affected her and her family. While thinking to myself how unfair it is that these things happen to such wonderful people, I wondered why I was going to try and put something similar in my own book. There is already so much hurt in the world right now. Why did I need to add that specific thing to it?

I'm a different person now than I was when I first starting writing these books. Sure, I still know how to do over the top like the back of my hand (see: role playing dates in a hotel bar), but I think that I've grown as a writer. A decision to heap angst I might have made years ago now gives me pause. What does it add to the story? Is it absolutely necessary?

I wanted them to be happy. This journey they were on should be a happy one. Bear and Otter were finally focusing on themselves, and I needed them to have a happy ending, even if sometimes real life doesn't give us our own.

A few other things:

--Paul and Bear meeting: yes, I always planned to include it here. Yes, I always planned to write it the exact way it happened. Yes, I am a dick, and I regret nothing. (Seriously, though, I guarantee not one of you expected it to go that way when you figured out what was about to happen. The climax was about how anti-climactic it was, and I laughed for days.)

--A certain website that Bear visits when trying to find ideas on his relationship should be familiar to those readers of another book of mine. Yes, it's the same site. Yes, I know who wrote the entire website. No, I'm not going to tell you. At least not yet. It will come later.

--This story wasn't about Lilly or Noah or the surprise third addition at the end. It was about the road to get to that point. Could I have written about the immediate aftermath of the birth? Sure. But then it would have taken away from the journey, I think. And then also made the book six million words long. There was never any plan for the kids other than what I wrote.

--Noah will fall in love. Maybe it will be with the friend mentioned at the end. Maybe it won't. Maybe someone else will come along. But he will be happy. (Secret: you want to know how I know I won't write a book about him? I purposefully picked the name Noah, as that is my nephew's name. Writing that character into his own romance would weird me out too much.)

--We may or may not see this family again, at least in part, in a one specific story. I still have Corey/Kori's book to write, and I can't imagine Tyson not being a part of it, at least a little bit. That being said, Corey/Kori's book will take place shortly after Until You, which will be in the summer before Lily and Noah are born in September. That book too will be the end of a series.

There is a lot of happiness here. I have put my blood, sweat and tears into these books. The road, though rocky as it got sometimes, was long and winding. But I've finally reached the end of it, at least where this specific family is concerned. They will be happy. There will be joy. And yeah, maybe there will be some hardships, but I know with all of my heart they'll make it through. They always do.

I said once in a blog shortly after Who We Are that I know they aren't real people, but that they're real to me. That hasn't changed, even after all this time. I walked with them on the beach to the spot not very many people know about. I hurt with them when the world was unfair. I felt such indescribable joy when their family was finally made whole.

They aren't real.

But they're real to me.

And I'll remember them always.

Thanks for sticking with me on this journey.

You've made it worth it.

tj

 

Saying Goodbye Part 2: Impact

This is part 2 of a three part series before the publication of the last Bear, Otter and the Kid book, The Long and Winding Road. If you missed part 1, check the previous blogpost.

 

As of today, it's been five years since there has been a book from Bear's perspective. Five years. Who We Are, the second book in the series, came out in 2012. We got a little taste of Bear in the epilogue of The Art of Breathing in 2014, but other than that, it's been a long time.

When I decided it was finally time to start writing the final book, I knew that I'd have to get back into Bear's frame of mind. There was the briefest of moments when I considered writing the book from Otter's perspective, but scrapped that almost just as quick. It started with Bear, and I thought it needed to end with him, too.

And while Bear always will be Bear, he's not that same twenty-something he was in the other books. He's older and wiser (ish), and he's settled in his skin (mostly).

But he still had to be Bear, and he's not exactly easy to write. So I went back and reread parts of the entire series, something I don't ever do. I never reread my own work after it's out, and I'm happy to keep it that way. By the time you get the book into your hands, I've read through that story so many times, I practically have it memorized. The last thing I want to do is reread my own words.

I had to get it right, though, so I went back and hit the highlights.

And it got me thinking. A lot. About the impact these books have had on me, especially since the Tj who existed in 2011 is not who I am today.

I wrote Bear, Otter, and the Kid in a tiny apartment in Tucson, Arizona. I sat at a cheap table in a small kitchenette on a laptop that was already by that point six or seven years old. I didn't have the internet. I didn't have cable (remember when you didn't need cable to still see certain channels?). I was a couple years into a job I had a sinking feeling I would be at forever. I wasn't college educated. I had good friends. I had my brother and sisters. My mother was an alcoholic and an addict, though she tried to tell us she wasn't.

And so I would go to work. I would come home. I would open up the laptop and pray that it actually turned on this time, and then would go to a place called Seafare for the next five or six hours. (Seafare, the thinly veiled stand in for Seaside, Oregon where I would spend summers as a kid.)

It was one of the first things I'd ever done that was just for myself. Without input from anyone else, without answering to someone, without being told that I was failing even though I was trying my best. I got that a lot. I put all my anger and sadness and wishes for future into that book. It was cathartic. I've learned since that writing usually is. Then and now, it's an outlet, allowing me to put the chaos in my head in a certain order, something that'd only been done before with medication.

It impacted me because I was creating, and no one could tell me not to.

And for better or worse, it impacted the MM community too.

Look, I'm not going to tell you that I think so highly of myself to think that I'm the best there ever was. I'm not. Hell, I'm not even the best in this genre, not even close. And that's okay. I would hate to have that title, because the expectations would drive me up the frigging walls.

Plenty of people like my books, which hey, that's rad. Plenty of people hate my books, too, which hey, that's cool. No two people are going to read a book the same way. But I don't think anyone, myself, the publisher, the editors, the readers, anyone expected that first book to do what it did. With a weird title and a cover that was extraordinarily divisive (I like it; I have it framed on my wall) from a first time author? Yeah, it should have ended in disaster.

But it didn't.

And even if you hate the sight of my very name, you still can't take that away from me.

That's the impact this book has had on me.

It's opened doors I never even knew existed. I've met people I never would have met otherwise. Some became my best friends. I asked one to marry me. I lost people that, had I never written this book, I wouldn't have known were even alive. BOATK gave me things, and it also allowed some of those things to be taken away.

Six years ago, at this very moment, I was less than a week away from my first book coming out. I was scared shitless, excited, and hopeful.

Now, I am less than a week away from my twentieth (!!!) book from being released. And I am scared shitless, excited, and so very hopeful.

I am not the same person that I was. These characters aren't either. They have loved and lost and fought tooth and nail to hold on to the family they've made for themselves.

And now, it's almost time to to say goodbye. But I've done my best to make sure it's a goodbye that's been worth waiting for.

Next Wednesday, August 9th, will be the third and final part of this blog series.

tj

 

Saying Goodbye Part 1: What to Expect When You're Expecting

Over the next week, I'll be writing a short series of blogs regarding the upcoming publication of The Long and Winding Road, the last book in the Bear, Otter and the Kid series. This is Part 1.

 

Imagine, if you will, writing to one of your best friends, telling her that you had questions about what happens to a woman's body during pregnancy and birth.

Luckily for me, my friends have come to expect such things from me, and author S.A. McAuley didn't even blink. In fact, she was ready.

And then proceeded to tell me things that I never knew existed, and never wanted to hear about ever again. (Episiotomy? Holy fucking god.)

The reason that I needed her to hurt my brain (and prove to me once and for all that women are 100% more badass than I will ever be--I stub my toe and am convinced the world is ending), was simple: I was getting ready to write the last book in the Bear, Otter and the Kid series. And since I'd left them with (rather dramatically, I might say) with twins on the way, I knew like any story where I didn't know enough about a subject, I needed to research it until I got it right.

Full disclosure: I am not...big on stories about babies and such. I am not exactly...fond, of children in real life. A lot of times in fiction, it seems as if kids or babies are used as props to tell a story, and it bugs me. Besides, happiness doesn't need to be married and living in the suburbs and having kids, right? Many couples don't go that route.

But Bear and Otter do. And it's mostly because of Otter.

Look, I'm not going to lie: I really think Otter got the short end of the stick in the first three books. Yes, he was stalwart and kind and amazing and awesome and sexy and just the bee's knees, but what he wanted was often put on the back burner for what Bear and the Kid needed. Granted, both of them were a little screwed in the head (for obvious reasons), but still. Otter bent over backwards for two people who he loved and was loved by in return, and maybe sometimes he didn't get the same amount that he gave.

I wanted to correct that in this final book. Much of the motivation, the plot in a sense (more on that later) comes from what Otter wants. And the point Bear realizes it is a big moment for him as a character. Because Ty--who can be a manipulative little shit--is about to have his own life. Bear has sacrificed a whole hell of a lot for him. And it's time that Bear focus on his life outside of that, specifically Otter.

Which is why The Long and Winding Road is Bear and Otter's story. BOATK was about all three of them, as was Who We Are. The Art of Breathing was about Ty. I wanted this last book to be about Bear and Otter specifically. Oh, sure, everyone else plays a major part, the Kid too, but it is more focused on Bear--and in turn, Otter--for a reason.

I've discussed previously how the book is divided into three parts: Past, Present and Future. I was a little wary about the Past part, knowing it would be covering some old ground. I am always hesitant in doing such, and honestly, get a little annoyed in books where I read one POV, and then another POV that retreads the first.

Which is why I was very careful with how the Past is written. I didn't want to re-write The Art of Breathing from Bear's POV. Readers already knew most of what happened there. Retreads bore me, and I know they can bore a reader. So while there will be some familiarity, you will not be reading The Art of Breathing Part 2.

And speaking of familiarity, there is the idea of nostalgia. I was very aware going into this last book about what had come before. I worried about relying too heavily on nostalgia for the sake of having it. It's all well and good, but it shouldn't be allowed to overtake a story in a series. It won't give it enough to stand on its own, and would read like a 350 page epilogue, which isn't what I wanted for this book.

The BOATK series is relatively plotless, if you think about. There is no over-arching plot. They are more slice of life, meandering to the highs and lows. There is a point I wanted to get to with this last book, but I allowed myself to take my time getting there, much like I did with the previous books. That being said, The Long and Winding Road is the shortest of the series. The first book was 120K or so, the second 130, and the third around 150K.

The Long and Winding Road (while still long by MM standards) comes in at 112K words. But every single word was lovingly placed, because this is the end. This is my long goodbye to these characters who have impacted me so much

In Part 2 of my Saying Goodbye series, I'll talk about that impact.

tj

 

The Long and Winding Road

Eight years ago, I decided to write a book.

It was scary. I didn't know what I was doing. I opened my ancient laptop and started writing. I talked myself out of it about a quarter of the way through, thinking it was crap and no one would ever read it.

For some reason, more than a year later, I went back and opened it up. It wasn't bad. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad.

And one day, in the winter of 2010, I finished it.

God, how terrifyingly cathartic that was.

I sent it in to Dreamspinner, the first publisher that came up when I searched for "gay books publishing". (Keep in mind, back then, I wasn't very computer savvy. I didn't have any social media, and the only time I ever really got on the Internet was to get directions or to buy physical copies of books off Amazon.)

Oh man, that draft I sent in put the rough in rough draft. I spell-checked it. Annnnd that's about it. 

But for some reason, the good people at DSP saw through the terrible presentation, and decided to accept a book with the unlikely title of Bear, Otter, and the Kid.

(side note--when I first announced it, some people thought it was a threesome book about a bearish man, a less hairy otter-type dude, and a younger man. So. Way to think that one through, Klune.)

On August 12, 2011, it was released.

And for some reason it blew the fuck up.

I dunno, man. I still can't explain it. Luck, maybe. Right story, right time, possibly. Maybe a little talent, but it's not the best told story (and you hush; I am allowed to be critical of my own work). I would change things about it now, but that's probably why I'll never go back and revise it. I don't want to mess with the flaws, because I think it shows how much I've grown as a writer since then.

I've gone over this all before, and in greater detail, both the good and bad that followed. There's no need to rehash that here.

Six years, though. Here we are six years later, and I'm once again writing about this funny little family of mine. But I go into it now knowing full well that I'm approaching the end. Because make no mistake, this is the end. I know that's not what people want to hear, and I get that. I do. But if I went in and tried to write BOATK8 or 9 or hell, even 5, it would lessen the impact these books have. I believe the sign of an adept writer is knowing where to end the story.

And here, finally, is their ending.

On August 11, 2017, just one day shy of the sixth anniversary of Bear, Otter, and the Kid, I'll invite you back to Seafare one last time. I have put as much love and care into The Long and Winding Road as any book I've written before. Because as much as you care about these characters, they are my first, and mean more to me than I could ever say. I needed to know that once I said goodbye, that whatever journey they'd go onto without me, they'd be safe and happy and living the lives I wished for them ever since I wrote that first chapter so many years ago.

Pre-orders will be up soon.

Sean Crisden (Bear, Otter and the Kid, The Art of Breathing) will be narrating the audio, though it won't be out until probably this winter.

I'll have more to say on it in the coming weeks, but I'll end this with the reason you're all here.

Talk soon,

tj

 

Official Blurb:

Family is not always defined by blood. It’s defined by those who make us whole—those who make us who we are.

And here, at the end, Bear and Otter will be tested like they’ve never been before.

There’s a knock at the door from a little girl who has nowhere else to go.

There’s a phone ringing, bringing news they do not expect.

There’s a brother returning home after learning how to stand on his own.

As these moments converge, all of their lives will change forever.

Beginning in Bear, Otter, and the Kid, and continuing in Who We Are and The Art of Breathing, TJ Klune has told a saga of family and brotherhood, of love and sacrifice. In this final chapter, the events of the past pave the long and winding road toward a future no one could have imagined.

 

Cover by Paul Richmond (who also did the redesigns for the first three books):

 

 

A Destiny of Dragons: Hold on to Your Butts

   

 

 

First things first:

Pre-order is up through DSP only. All other sites will come mid-June.

DSP Pre-Order:https://goo.gl/oyGkEH

Next order of business, a few things:

1) The audiobook will be out when its out. Look, folks, I wish it could be out day one. I've advocated for pushing back releases on books and letting everything happen all at once, but no dice. I know everyone loves the audios, and they're great! Michael is amazing. But it won't be out right away. Depending upon the length of the story, it could take months. So when you hear a release date for a book, plan on on adding 4-6 (possibly longer) mos after for the audio. 

2) There is a new character that has caused a bit of an uproar (heh). His name is Ruv (pronounced Roov), and as people have read from the blurb, he is supposedlySam's true cornerstone. Now, if you'll recall from The Lightning-Struck Heart, there is never just one cornerstone. Morgan tells Sam that if it's not Ryan, it could be someone else. Take that as you will. Which leads to--

3) This will not become a menage or MMM story. I don't write MMM. Nothing wrong with it, it just doesn't hold any interest for me. So rest assured this won't all of a sudden go in that direction.

4) The length of Destiny is roughly around the same length as Lightning, possibly a little bit shorter.

But when all is said and done, you should still expect some what-the-fuckery.

(BWAHAHAHA!)

The Lightning-Struck Heart is built around a trope. If youthink about it, and take away all the manic crazy and the dragon rimming a unicorn in the butt stuff, TLSH is about rescuing a prince from a dragon who has stolen him to its keep.

Simple, right?

I love fantasy. Ever since I was a kid, I've read as much as I can get my hands on. I grew up in Mordor and Discworld and Earthsea and Narnia. I love everything about it: swords and wizards and magic and fantastical creatures in faraway places.

That being said, sometimes, fantasy is really fucking stupid.

Which is what I wanted to do with what I refer to as the DESTINY FUCK YEAH! Trilogy. It's comprised of A Destiny of Dragons, The Consumption of Magic, and A Wish Upon the Stars. These books, which follow the events of TLSH, tell one massive story. (Which brings me to another point: since all the books are connected, you should be aware of the dreaded word cliffhanger. Destiny doesn't end on a cliffhanger, not really; at least not the type where everyone is about to die and all of a sudden, it's over. However, it does end with many things unresolved. But the good news is, all the books are complete and will be released within a few months of each other: Consumption in the fall and Wish in early 2018.)

And I built this new trilogy around tropes, mainly the Chosen One Who Has A Destiny Trope (capitalized, so you know it's true).

Look, destinies are dumb. They really are. Frodo and Bilbo and Harry Potter and countless of other heroes have had destinies thrust upon them. They are the CHOSEN ONE. And I hate how much I love that trope (or love how much I hate it, I dunno). I wanted to write a book(s) where there is a destiny, and it's immediately called out for how ridiculous and vague it is.

In addition, each of the books in this new trilogy will play around with another specific trope. For Destiny, it's the trope you find in sequels to books that feature an established couple: the dreaded Introduction of a New Character Who Only Exists To Cause Trouble and/or Jealousy for a Happy Pair.

I've done this before. Legit. Check Isaiah in Who We Are. But I really wasn't conscious of the trope when I wrote that book back in 2011. But holy hell I am now, and I exploit it as much as possible. I liked the idea of grumpy and growly Ryan Foxheart. I also like Ruv. I really do. I wanted to create a sympathetic character that you will hate initially, but then might have a little twinge of something for later on. Hell, some of you might even root for him to get all up in Sam's bidness. (You know who you are, you Lady Tina's of the world.) And while I won't say what happens there, I can promise that Team HaveHeart will have much to cheer for (even if it takes them--you know what? Never mind. I'll just keep that to myself.)

These books will always first and foremost be absurd comedies. Always. However, there is an emotional heft and a sense of urgency that wasn't in Lightning. While I firmly acknowledge the tropes I'm playing around with, that doesn't mean they won't lead to...consequences. Of a...certain variety.

Before I do sequels, I always sit down and ask myself what do I want to accomplish? Why does (fill in the blank character) need another story, and what will they learn by the end?

Destiny picks up roughly a year after Lightning ends. Sam is young, of course, still in his early twenties. When Destiny begins, he's still...Sam. The main goal, aside from fucking around with Tropey McTroperson, was to show Sam mature. He's gotten his happily ever after, but what does that mean? And can he be the same person he's always been, even when the weight of the world falls upon his shoulders? Sam of Wilds needs to grow up if he's ever going to do what's being asked of him. Or does he even want to?

The other question I asked myself arose from this scenario: in TLSH, Sam of Wilds is told repeatedly that he's stronger than any other wizard out there.

So, just how strong is he?

Which led to: Morgan and Randall are hundreds of years old because of the strength of their magic.

What does that mean for Sam? Will he stay as he is now while most everyone he knows and loves ages and fades away around him?

(ooooooooh!)

There are specific scenes in Lightning that paved the way for this new trilogy. If one were so inclined, I might suggest one goes back and re-reads the scene with Dmitri and the fairies in the Dark Woods, specifically the end of that meeting. And also any scenes that explain just how important cornerstones are. Because in the end, it always comes back to the cornerstones.

All pre-order locations should be up soon, and I'll have more to say on Destiny in the weeks ahead.

 

tj

Here's Why You're Clueless

I tend to stay away from drama in this community. I think, for the most part, it's usually pointless and contrived. It's usually some bullshit blown out of proportion, and honestly? I've got other things to focus on. Which is why I've been on Facebook less and less. Everyday it just seems to be something new.

So, of course, imagine my complete surprise (insert eyeroll) when this happened:

 

Okay, so, big deal right? Funny, ha ha. A known female author(s) identifying with something she is not. Whatevs.

Except.

It's not that funny.

And some people began commenting as such.

Now, from what I understand, most of those comments were deleted by Kindle Alexander.

However, they had a point. The point being that Kindle Alexander is a woman. Who writes gay romance. Which, in of itself, is no big deal. But, she is most certainly not a man.

Instead of buckling down and apologizing, or hell, even deleting the post and ignoring it, this happened.

 

That's not an apology. Oh, sure, it has the words I'm sorry in the first sentence (which, is conveniently negated by the second sentence, but hey--cool, cool, cool). 

There is a difference, Ms. Alexander, between "supporting" LGBT rights, and appropriating it like you have done.

But hell, even I could forgive a tone-deaf, half-assed apology. I mean, who the hell hasn't said something stupid? I have. All the time.

But it's the comment that followed this "apology" and Kindle Alexander's response, as shown above, that is the most ridiculous thing I've seen so far today. (Granted, I've been awake for an hour, so.)

The people referenced as "haters" were, from what I understand, part of the LGBT community, pointing out that Ms. Alexander is, in fact, not a gay man.

So when the commenter, Jo Grimmster, says "round them all up, shove'em in some nasty place like outback Australia and let them kill themselves off," Ms. Alexander should have responded, as one does when they claim to be an "ally" by condemning such a remark. I don't think I need to point out the connotations of Jo Grimmster's comment. They are pretty damn clear.

Kindle Alexander doesn't condemn it, as you can see. It made her "smile."

Ms. Alexander, here's why you're clueless.

You claim to be an ally. You profit off the lives of gay men, given that's what you write about. You say not one word of disrespect was given, and yet, the very next comment is disrespect that you did nothing but "smile" about.

You can't be a part time ally.

That's not how this works.

I urge readers to make up their own minds.

I offer another piece of evidence.

We aren't your enemy.

roundthem all up, shove'em in some nasty place like outback Australia and let them kill themselves off

you made me smile

Ms Alexander, you are not an ally when this makes you smile. When someone (multiple someones, even) tells you that something you said wasn't right, then you need to check your words before doubling down on them.

Don't tell us what to fear. Don't tell us you are going to build us up when the evidence indicates you have no problem tearing people down.

Start with an actual, real apology.

And for the love of god, don't claim to be something you are not.

 

 

New PO Box

So, I've been asked again and again and again to set up a PO Box so y'all can send me books you want me to sign and other stuff. I've been lazy, but I finally did it. Keep in mind that if you do send me something that will be mailed back to you, you need to include proper return packaging and postage. Otherwise, I will yell at you over the internet and possibly say something mean and then throw whatever you sent me into the fire.

Do not send me porn. I get enough people doing that in my messages. (WHY DO YOU DO THIS.)

Do not send me a movie directed by Michael Bay. I will come and light your house on fire.

Do not send me food. I will not eat it in case someone is trying to assassinate me.

Tj Klune

PO Box 7386

Fredericksburg VA 22404

Until You Cover/Blurb/Pre-Order Spectacular!

Donald Trump is now president.

Let me do my part in welcoming him by releasing the cover for the next At First Sight book, which is the super gay wedding of Paul Auster and Vince Taylor. This is a novella comprised of 50K words of shenanigans, a bachelor party planned by a drag queen, workplace blowjobs, and happy tears.

So, without further adudes--

Pre-order:

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/until-you-by-tj-klune-8201-b

Blurb:

Together with their families and friends

Paul Auster

and

Vincent Taylor

request the honor of your company at the celebration of their marriage.

 

Cover by Reese Dante (notice the chubby cake topper *dying*)

Cover By Reese Dante

Cover By Reese Dante

Here, Have Some Happy:

I'm sad, today. And angry. And frustrated.

I don't want to be.

The Lightning-Struck Heart has always been one of my happy places.

And I hear from a lot of people that it's theirs too.

So.

I was saving this for a special occasion. And today is as good as any.

So, here. Have a short story following the events of The Lightning Struck Heart, featuring the adventures of Sam and Justin as our favorite idiot wizard's apprentice tries to find the prince a boyfriend.

Yes, it goes as well as you think it will.

(and forgive any mistakes. It's just been given a cursory run through, so my bad if it's not completely edited. Also, don't add this to Goodreads as part of the series. I don't want it listed on there currently. It's actually the first chapter of the next book, A Destiny of Dragons, but it stands on its own as a short story with no spoilers for the book that follows.)

Be safe, be well, and keep your chin up, okay?

Tj

 

Best Friends 5eva

 

“Do I even want to know what we’re doing?” Prince Justin asked me as we walked down a side street in the City of Lockes, trying to avoid detection.

“Absolutely,” I said. Probably not. “I have the best ideas.”  There was plenty of evidence to the contrary, but it was usually spouted by excessively negative people, and I hated excessively negative people. “You can trust me.” This was going to end in tears and death, mostly likely my own, but he didn’t need to know that. At least not yet. I grinned at him my most trustworthy grin as I led him into an alley.

He stared at me.

I widened my smile so he’d understand.

 “Are you…are you about to be ill? Because you look like you’re about to be ill. Like you just ate a plate of bad beef and are entirely unsure of what end it’s going to come out of. I suppose that’s how you normally look, though, so I don’t really think there’s much of a difference.”

“I’m smiling at you. To show my trustworthiness.”

He grimaced. “Funny how that works. I still don’t trust you at all.”

“Lie. You trust me a little bit. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have snuck out of the castle with me without asking me why.”

“I didn’t do anything with you. You put your hand over my mouth and told me I had to come with you if I wanted to live. And I repeatedly demanded you tell me the reasons for—”

“We’re the best of friends,” I told a rather large alley rat as it scurried along down the cobblestone. “He hugged me once in the forest while a naked man with wings tried to get us to touch each other inappropriately.” I frowned at that. “Huh. What does it say about my life that that sentence makes complete and total sense to me?”

“We’re not anything of the sort,” Justin snapped. “In fact, my first act as King will probably be to have you beheaded. Fair warning. And the hug was against my will, like most of the things you do to me. And it was made worse by the fact that the King of Fairies kept telling you to lick my—”

“You can’t kill me,” I reminded him as I stopped us at the entrance of the alley. “You would miss me too much and would probably feel really bad.” And I would also be dead, which would suck for me.

“I highly doubt I would feel anything at all but immense relief.”

Okay, I could work with that. “The people would revolt.”

“Or there would be celebrations in the streets as they would no longer need to hear your inane prattling.”

My ace in the hole! “Gary would come after you.”

Justin sighed. “Now that I believe. He still looks at me like I wasn’t the one left standing at the altar on my wedding day while my fiancé stared lovingly into the eyes of another man and spouted disgusting platitudes of jerking off your heart or whatever the hell else was said.”

I glanced out the alley to make sure we hadn’t been noticed. “I don’t know if that’s quite what happened.”
           

His glare was rather ferocious. “Care for me to refresh your memory?”

Nope, not at all. “You’re distracting yourself from what’s important.”

He gaped at me. “Your level of self-awareness would be remarkable if it wasn’t so terrifying.”

“Thank you.”

“That wasn’t—”

 “Don’t you want to know why we’re here?” I asked.

“No.”

“You did just a second ago.”

“I’ve since changed my mind.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to know? Not even a little bit?”

“Sam, if you don’t take me back to the Castle this instant, I’m going to make sure you’re miserable for the rest of our lives.”

My heart swelled. It was inevitable.

He took a step back. “What. Why are you looking at me like that? Like you’re having feelings?”

I needed to hug him very badly. “Because,” I said, taking a step toward him. “You just said you wanted me to be miserable for the rest of our lives. Like we’re going to live long and miserably together. Forever. As best friends.”

He blanched as he held up his hands, back hitting the brick wall of the building behind him. “That’s not what I meant. You stay back! You hear me? Goddammit Sam, you stay back—”

“We’re going to hug,” I demanded, taking another step.

“No, no we’re not.”

“You can’t stop it,” I said, holding my arms out wide. “It’s gonna happen.”

“Godsdammit, I will kick you in the—”

But before he could move, I had him pressed up against the brick wall, arms wrapped tightly around him. His own arms were trapped at his sides. I laid my head on his shoulder, tucking my nose against his neck. “Shh,” I said. “Shh. It’s okay. It’s okay. Just let it happen.”

“You are hugging me against my will.”

“There’s no such thing,” I whispered. It was a good hug. Maybe not the best, but we had time to get there. Justin had all but just admitted that. It was glorious. I would probably write a poem about this day when we got back home.

He sighed heavily, like he couldn’t believe I could be so wonderful. “You really don’t understand boundaries, do you?”

“Only that they’re made to be broken,” I said. “Also, I would let your arms go, but you’ve already proven you can’t be trusted to hug me back.”

“It’s not my fault you bruise so easily,” he muttered.

“Yet, you still seem to try—”

“Are we done yet?”

“It hasn’t even been a full minute. Everyone knows that hugs last for at least two minutes. It’s mandatory.”

“No one thinks that. Sam, literally no one.”

“Maybe we should,” I said, squeezing him tighter. “Maybe there’d be no wars if people just hugged all the time. After all, you can’t be armed if you have someone in your arms.”

“Unless I stab you in the—”

I felt like that was a good time to end the hug.

I turned back toward the entrance to the alley as he grumbled what I was sure was nothing but compliments about my existence.

It was going on dusk, and the street ahead was busy as people scurried about. Shopkeepers working the stalls called out their wares in loud, boisterous voices, selling fresh fish from the port and handwoven baskets and jewels crafted by the fires of dragons. It stank of animal shit, cooking meat and something so distinctly Verania that I couldn’t help but love every single piece and part of it. These were my people, this was my city. As if in response, somewhere in the crowd, there came the sweet, sweet chords of a lute playing a song that had taken Verania by storm over the last several months after it’d spent close to a year circulating in the pubs.

“I swear to the gods,” Justin muttered, “if I have to hear that goddamn song about cheesy dicks one more time, I’m going to find out who started it and send them to the dungeons forever.”

Since I had no desire to poop in a bucket for the rest of my life, I said, “I don’t hear anything, so let’s stop talking about it and focus on other things. Like how I’m about to change your life. For the better.”

“Anyone else, I might believe that. Coming from you, it sounds like a threat.”

Since anything he had to say was, at this point, entirely without merit, I ignored him. I had a scene to set, after all. “Imagine,” I said, waving my hands slowly in front of me, setting the shit out of that scene. “It’s a lovely evening. There’s music in the air. Everyone is happy. There’s a feeling of joy in your heart.”

He glared at me.

“Joy,” I insisted. “You’re feeling joy.”

His eyes narrowed further.

“Okay,” I said. “We’ll come back to that part and work on it a little later. By the way, did you know that the skin under your eye twitches when I talk? I noticed that a long time ago. I wonder why that is. You may want to see the doctor in case it’s a sign of illness or stress. Are you stressed? I can’t imagine why. Where was I? Dammit. I forgot what we were talking about.”

“Sam,” Justin ground out.

“That’s right,” I said. “The scene. There’s music and happiness—mostly—and joy in your heart, or there soon will be. The night stretches out in front of you filled with promise. Your senses are tingling and you’re thinking, yes, this is going to be something magical. This is what I’ve been waiting for.”

“That’s not what I’m thinking right now.”

“Regardless,” I said, “you will be thinking it. And when you’re thinking it, when you’re caught up in the moment, when you feel like you’re finally alive, what’s the one thing you notice is missing?”

“The reason for why your parents didn’t sell you for the highest price they could the moment they realized you were nothing but an unmitigated tragedy?”

“Close,” I said. “You’re missing love.”

He blinked at me, looking startled.

It didn’t last long.

“Love,” he repeated slowly, starting to frown.

“Love,” I agreed.

“Sam, I mean this in the most succinct way possible. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“What. The fuck. Are you talking about?”

I sighed.  “Look, maybe, quite possibly, I feel bad for a certain knight coming to a dawning realization at the worst possible moment.”

“Really,” he said flatly. “You feel bad about that.”

I did. Granted, it led to my virginity getting completely destroyed by the love of my young, albeit adventurous, life, but yes. I still felt slightly bad. It’d been years since I’d given my heart away, but only thirteen months since I was sure it’d be protected enough for me to let it go. And I would always remember the look of betrayal on Justin’s face when his husband-to-be looked him straight in the eye and said he loved another. “Mostly bad,” I said. “Slightly giddy, but bad too. It’s paradoxical, but then I am an enigma.”

He rolled his eyes. “I still blame you. But mostly him.”

“Because he’s an idiot.”

“Right? Such a fucking idiot.”

“Seriously! Who does that? He literally waited until you were getting married to confess his undying love and admiration for me.”

“I would have believed that more if you hadn’t gotten that sappy look on your face.”

 I shrugged. “It’s a byproduct. Of the love and admiration.”

 “It’s an affliction. A symptom of a festering disease that must be eradicated.”

“Or one that we need to infect you with, which is why we’re here. Gods, I love it when conversations come full circles. Don’t you just love that? I do.”

He stared at me with an expression on his face that suggested he did not love that.

“Anyway,” I said hastily. “Let me get a good look at you before we proceed. I have to know what I’m working with.”

“Working with? Why do I have a feeling I’m not going to like what you’re making me do?”

“To be fair, you don’t like anything I make you do, so. Now, hush. Let me gaze upon you.”

“Is this some freakish wizard thing?”

“Yes.” It wasn’t. “That’s exactly it.” That wasn’t it at all.

 I suppose if one liked frigid bitches hiding hearts laced with gold, one could reasonably say that that Grand Prince Justin of Verania was an attractive man. Sure, he often looked like he’d bitten into the most bitter of lemons (something I’d tried to cure him of but only seemed to make worse) but men and women alike fawned over his porcelain skin, waxing poetically over his chocolate brown curls. How regal he was, they exclaimed. How beautiful. It was as if the gods themselves had a hand in his making.

Even after I’d essentially princenapped him, he looked well put together. He was statuesque, broad shouldered with a narrow waist. He had elegant fingers and calloused palms, a testament to how well-versed of a swordsman he was. His expensively embroidered tunic was stretched tightly across his arms and chest. His trousers had the right amount of pull along his thighs and—

“Holy crap,” I breathed. “You’re dreamy.”

He said, “What.” No inflection whatsoever.

“Like, no, just…give me a moment. My world view just shifted and I’m struggling to go along with it.”

“So…pretty much a normal day then for you.”

“When did you get attractive?” I demanded.

“Are you hitting on me?” he asked incredulously.

 “What! No! Of course not. At least, I don’t think I am. Am I? I really need to sit down and think about this. What am I doing? With this? With my life? Oh my gods, what am I doing with my—”

Justin scoffed. “It wasn’t enough that you swooped in and stole my fiancé right out from under me, but now you’ve taken me to a dark and dank alley to have your way with me? For shame, Sam of Wilds. For shame.”

“I would never have my way with you in a dark and dank alley,” I retorted. “I’m a gentleman. I would woo the shit out of you, wine and dine, the whole nine yards. And then we’d make sweet passionate love on a bed covered in roses and I would just go to town on your butt because apparently I’m a power top and—what the fuck are we talking about?”

He looked horrified. “I have no idea! You’re the one that stole me away to try and power top me! I don’t even know what that means!”

“That’s not—” I took a deep breath and let it out slow. “Okay. Somehow, you’ve gotten us all off track. As usual.”

Me? Why you little—”

“We’re here because we’re going on a date.”

“I don’t want to date you! In fact, I would rather do anything else—”

“Not me. I found you a date with an awesome dude!”

It wasn’t silent after that. No, it really couldn’t have been, seeing as how we were in the middle of the City of Lockes. But Prince Justin was silent, like his mind had been blown at the thought of my extraordinary generosity, his synapses firing in the face of just how much I cared.

Which, honestly, contrasted heavily when he finally spoke. “You did what.”

“Okay, so look. It’s really rather terrible, but something I’ve learned is that when one falls in love and is happy about it, one wants nothing more than to spread that love to others, to see best friends—okay, okay don’t growl  at me, almost best friends, gods—experience the same joy of falling for someone. I love love so much, that I want to shove it down your throat so you know what I’m going through.”

“Sam.”

“Yes, Justin.”
           

“Are you telling me that right now, there is someone waiting for me to come to them to go on a date with them? Someone I’ve never met.”
           

“Um. Yes?”

“How are you a real person?”
           

I frowned at him. “You know what? That’s not the first time I’ve been asked that.”

“Who is he?” Justin asked, sounding resigned (which, possible meant he was thrilled; I hadn’t quite worked out all of Justin’s facial expressions as of yet).

“Oh! You’re going to love him. His name is William and he’s a Sagittarius and he likes the same things you do.”

“Like…”

“Um. You know. Stuff. Things. That everyone likes.”

He cocks his head at me. “Sam.”

“Yes, Justin.”

“Where did you meet him?”

“At…the store.”

“What store?”

I was feeling awfully sweaty because I really couldn’t lie for shit. I suppose that was a good thing. Mostly. “The…hat. Store.”

“The hat store.”

“Yes,” I said, swallowing. “Where I was buying a hat.”

“What kind of hat?”

Why was it so warm in the dark and dank alley? “A porkpie.”

He took a step toward me. “Really.”

I nodded. “Gary says they’re all the rage this season. And I trust his fashion sense. Because he’s a unicorn. Unicorns are very fashionable, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

“And this man. This…William. What does he look like?”

And godsdamn his inquisitive mind! How neatly a trap it laid! “Like a…male…person.”

“Sam.”

“Yes, Justin.” He was standing really close to me. I was uncomfortable.

“What—”

“Fine!” I cried. “You’ve broken me. I’ve withstood Dark wizards and really invasive corn but I can’t take the endless pools that are your eyes. I’ve never met him before. I’ve never even seen him before!”
           

“Aha!” Justin cried. Then, “Wait. What.”

“Ah, man. I feel better. That really was weighing on me.”

“What do you mean you’ve never seen him?”
           

I blinked. “Just that. I’ve never seen him before.” Was it that hard to understand?

“Then how do you know him?” he asked dangerously.

“He answered answered the ad.”

Justin closed his eyes for a moment, breathing heavily through his nose. “What ad?”

Well, this was off to a very bad start. “Um. The one I placed in the back of Lockes of Love, the periodical for singles who are ready to mingle in the City of Lockes under their man for man section?”

The skin under his eye twitched.

“It’s okay,” I said. “I made you sound really good. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s bullshitting.”

Another twitch. Or maybe a more pronounced one. Like it was spreading.

“I’m serious! Look, I even cut it out and saved it, it was so good.” I reached into the pocket under my robes and pulled out the folded piece of paper. I handed over to Justin, who just glared at me. I poked it against his hand. “Come on. Come on, take it. Take it.”

A man walked by the alley, staring at us with wide eyes.

I waved at him.

He walked away quickly.

Justin grabbed the paper from my hand and brought it up to his face. I didn’t need to see what it said. I’d already had the genius of it memorized.

Looking For Love!

M4M. In position of power, would like someone else to take charge. Me: 20s Attractive w/ resting bitch face. Intelligent, slightly evil, ambitious. People think I’m cold, but it’s really a front for a semi-soft heart. I like rolling my eyes at wizards even though I secretly like them and think they’re pretty cool. I also like deviled eggs.

“I know so much about you,” I said helpfully.

 You: Older? Maybe. Assertive attitude. Real go-getter. Takes what you want. Commanding, even. Must have eyebrows. Double jointed is a plus. No Darks or fairies named Dimitri.

Justin looked up at me slowly.

I smiled at him. “You’re welcome. Some of them got really porny, but I took the high road. One talked about splitting you like a—”

 “And someone responded to this,” he said, voice strangely even.

“Yes! Well, actually, like a hundred people did, but I narrowed it down to the best one. And I’ve been sending notes back and forth posing as you so I could get a real sense of him. He seems like a nice guy. Maybe a little bossy, but I figured that’s something you can work on when you marry him. Also, for some reason, he likes to call you boy and expects to be obeyed at all times, but hey, just roll with it. Could be fun.”

“What part of you thought that this would be a good idea?”

“Most parts,” I said. “But that’s why I’m here. In case he turns out to be a raging psychopath—which I highly doubt because it seems like that’s something you’d have to put down in the ad—I’ll be there right by your side.”

He said nothing for a long time. My jaw hurt from smiling so much.

 Finally, “So let me get this straight. You impersonated the Prince of Verania to set up a date for me by using a personal ad in the back of a magazine that I usually see lying in the gutters and covered with bird feces. And not only that, but someone responded to said ad and now I’m on my wait to meet him. Where you will also be in attendance.”

“All the highlights,” I said, suitably impressed.

Lots of twitching going on.

“Also,” I said. “One more thing.” I reached into my robe in the inner pocket and pulled out two matching beards from my old Mervin days. “Disguises. So we won’t be recognized. If all goes well, then William will understand why you had to lie. Especially if it’s for love. Do you want to put this on or should—you know what. I’ll just do it. Just…hold still. You’re kind of tense. Like really, really tense. It’s not good for your back. And your hands are fists right now. So much tension. Sorry the beard is a little wet. And sticky. Tiggy spilled juice on it right before we left and I didn’t have time to clean it. Just gonna hold it on your face for a moment to make sure it sticks…annnnd, done.”

He looked ridiculous.

“You look amazing,” I said. “William won’t know what hit him.”

I had the best ideas.

****

I had the worst ideas.

Not that they started out that way, mind you, but for some reason, they tended to devolve quickly and out of my control. Dragons, truth corn, getting gay fairy married, turning boys to stone and asking an important wizard to not explode my nipples. I’d like to think I have the best intentions in mind, but I lose the thread part way through.

Like today, for example.

I wanted Justin to find love.

And thought what if I brought love to him.

Ergo, I put out a search for love.

And then bring him to love.

Foolproof, right?

Almost. Except for the fact that William seemed to be almost as big as Tiggy, wore an entire herd’s worth of leather, and made us call him Sir.

Justin and I sat side by side in the open air café that William had suggest we meet at (though, if I was remembering correctly, he’d said negotiate rather than meet, but I had a lot going on at the time, so I couldn’t be faulted for not remembering every little detail.) I wore a beard similar to Justin’s, something that Sir hadn’t missed, given that he’d raised an eyebrow as we approached and said, “I’m down for twins.”

I should have known it was going to go downhill from there.

“Now, I understand you’re looking to be dominated,” Sir said.

Justin squeaked.

“Uhh,” I said. “I don’t think that’s quite what I—”

“Did I say you could speak, boy?” Sir asked sharply.

“No, sir. Sorry, sir.”

He waited a beat, as if making sure I wouldn’t step out of line again. I didn’t, because I didn’t want to get fisted or have something shoved up my pee hole.

“Now. We should probably discuss hard limits,” Sir said. “I’m okay with most things, even the…fluids…some others might have problems with. Even the more solid ones.”

“So unbelievably gross,” I breathed in awe.

“Also, after you sign the contract, you will become my personal property, and I like to share. I have a lot of friends who will want to tear off a piece for themselves while I watch. You will treat them with respect while they treat you like a piece of meat. It’s how these things go. Also, I have this kink where I treat my subs like footstools.”

“I will see you castrated for this,” Justin whispered furiously at me.

“Stop saying things he might like!” I whispered back.

Sir coughed in warning.

We stared at him with wide eyes.

“Are you two quite finished?”

“You have no idea,” Justin said.

“Absolutely none,” I agreed.
           

“Good. Tell me. How do you feel about puppy play?”

Before I could answer that (Ooh, I like puppies!), we were interrupted by a shrill, grating, and dare I say shriekish voice. “Well eat me up and shit me out. Just what do we have here?”

I sighed. “Crap. I am never going to hear the end of this.”

I turned slowly, already knowing what I would find.

Sure enough, there on the street only a few feet away (how had I not hear them approach!), stood a hornless unicorn, a half-giant, a dragon, and a knight with a resigned look on his face, something that I was extraordinarily used to being directed at my person, even after all this time.

“Heyyy,” I said with a wave. “What. Is. Up.”

Hey, he says,” Gary snapped, flipping his mane prettily. “Can you believe this? You raise a child most of his life, watch him go through painful years of puberty to become a reasonably attractive man, only to find him negotiating kink contracts with a leather Dom and saying hey.” He sniffled. “I’ve never been more proud of anything in my life.”

Tiggy frowned. “Sam a pain slut?”

“I highly doubt that, kitten. You know how he gets when he stubs a toe. He doesn’t pop a boner, that’s for sure.”

“He’s growing up so fast,” the dragon named Kevin rumbled. “I remember when he was just a wee slip of a lad. Now he’s this young man finding his way in the world. A sexy way that I will probably actively participate in because that’s just who I am. No judgements. We’re all gods’ creatures, right? Just writhing on top of each—”

“Do I even want to know what you’re doing?” the knight asked, cocking a devastatingly unfair eyebrow.

Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.

And probably currently not very happy with me.

“It’s not what it looks like?” I tried.

They all stared at me.

“Okay, it probably is what it looks like, but not for me. I’m not some kind of pain slut like Justin is. I’m here for moral support and nothing else.”

“Really,” Sir said. “You sure about that?”

“Wow,” I said. “Your voice is deeply intimidating. That’s impressive. I’m impressed.” I turned back to the others. “Did you hear that? He makes us call him Sir. This is fun. I’m having such a good time. Please save me.”

“Sam put a personal ad in the newspaper to try and make up for the fact that he is a homewrecker,” Justin said.

“See, that makes sense,” Gary said.

“Hey! What about what I said?”

“Sam,” Gary said, sounding disappointed. “Honestly, what do you expect me to believe? I know Justin’s not a pain slut, because I’ve never seen him at the club getting flogged by Honest Helga.”

“That’s not a club I want to go to,” I said. “Because of Honest Helga.”

“She certainly knows how to pack a punch,” Kevin agreed.

And,” Gary said, “I know you’re a homewrecker because I witnessed it with my own eyes. Remember that? Sam? Do you? When you wrecked their home? I remember when you wrecked their home.”

Tiggy crossed his arms over his considerable chest. “That’s not nice, Sam. Even if Knight Delicious Face ate your flower.”

“He most certainly did,” Kevin said. “We all heard it too. The acoustics in the castle are just extraordinary. Raise your hand if you thought Sam would be a screamer.”

Tiggy raised his hand. Kevin raised a claw. Gary stood on three legs.

“I didn’t scream,” I said, scowling at all of them. “I was providing encouragement to my boo so he knew he was doing a good job. It’s called positive reinforcement.”

Ryan turned his face toward the heavens and sighed. He was either silently agreeing with me or deciding now was a good time to study up on constellations.

Kevin snorted a little lick of fire. “It sure sounded like you were positively reinforcing his—”

“Dear,” Gary said. “We’ve talked about this. It’s not polite to discuss other people’s sex lives when one or more of them is a prude.”
           

“I’m not a prude. Do you know how many things Ryan has done to me? Like, seventeen things.”

“Name three,” Gary said rather gleefully as he pranced in place.

“Easily,” I said. “This one time, he put his toes in my—”

“That’s probably enough of that,” Ryan said.

I mimed the rest to Gary. It was the most accurate thing I’d ever done.

Gary squinted at me. “Are you pretending to eat a watermelon covered in peanut butter?”

“Close enough. I couldn’t walk straight for like three days.”

“I bet I could make it four,” Sir said as he leered at me.

“I like him,” Kevin announced. “We should all be sex friends and go on teambuilding retreats where none of us wear clothing and we all lay on top of each other.”

“Yep,” I said. “Time to go. This has just been lovely. Justin, will you be signing any contract or having any follow up with Sir? I take it by the way you’re squeezing my hand to the point of excruciating pain, that’s a no. Sorry, Sir. Looks like the date was a bust. Next time, huh?”

“Or maybe,” Sir said slowly, “you owe me for wasting my time.” He glanced at Ryan. “He your bitch?” he asked him.

“Oh girl, that was a bad idea,” Gary muttered.

“I smash?” Tiggy growled.

“Kind of my bitch,” Ryan said.

“No shit,” Justin said.

“Ha,” Kevin said. “I knew it. That’s so hot.”

“Hey! Okay, I am, but that’s still rude. Or maybe I’m my own man, and I can speak for myself. Maybe I want to go with him.” I looked back at Sir. “I really don’t want to go with you. I’m just trying to prove a point.”

“Autonomy is very important,” Sir said. “Unless I take it from you and cover you with my semen.”

“You are the greatest man alive,” Kevin said. “Teach me all your secrets.”

“One day,” Ryan said, “we’re going to meet someone new who doesn’t want to have capture and/or have sex with you.”
           

“I never did,” Gary said. “He’s a little too stringy for my tastes. Not enough meat on dem bones, if you know what I mean. Unicorns need a little more oomph since we’re such voracious lovers.”
           

Stringy?” I gasped.

“It okay,” Tiggy said, reaching down and patting me roughly on the head. “I do you.”

“Aw. Really?”

“No.”
           

“Dammit.”

“I can’t comment on this,” Kevin said. “Given my position as his stepfather.”

“You’re not my—”

“I’d hit that so hard,” Kevin told Sir.

“This did not turn out how I thought it would,” I said.

“Does it ever?” Justin asked. “That was a legitimate question, by the way. Does anything ever turn out like you think it will?”

I nodded toward Ryan. “Locked that shit down, didn’t I?”

“Oh snap,” Tiggy said.

“Fist bump me, babe,” I said to Ryan, holding out my hand.

“Yeah, I’m not going to do that,” Ryan said.

“Watch,” Gary whispered to Tiggy. “It’ll take five to ten seconds for him to give in. I’ve been teaching Sam how to unicorn.”

I widened my eyes as much as possible and fluttered my eyelashes. “But, I want you too. For me? Please?”

Ryan sighed and fist bumped me.

“Works every time,” Gary said.

“I can hear you,” Ryan said. “You’re standing right next to me and not trying to hide the fact that you’re talking about me.”

“I thought we talked about how stalking me is wrong now that you’re in a monogamous relationship with one of my best friends,” Gary said.  “Get a grip, Ryan. This obsession you have with me is going to ruin the best thing that’s ever happened to you.”

 “You talked about that,” Ryan reminded him. “Loudly and repeatedly. Once, you woke me up at three in the morning by standing above me and breathing on my face, only to tell me to stop following you.”

 “Maybe you should listen!”
           

“You were in my room.”

  “I’ll find you true love,” I told Justin. “If it’s the last thing I do.”

  “That feels like a threat,” he said slowly.

“A threat of love,” I agreed. “Now, I think it’s time we head back to the castle. I’m famished and I’m probably going to get yelled out by four or five different people for sneaking you out to meet with a leather daddy.”

“The castle?” Sir said.

            “Oh, right,” I said. “Yeah, this is Justin, the Prince of Verania that you just tried to violate with your existence. Good job.”

“Holy shit,” he said, paling considerably “The prince? That means—” He looked from Gary to Tiggy. From Kevin to Ryan. Then back to me. “That means you’re—”

I grinned at him. “Damn right. I’m Sam of Wilds, King’s Wizard.”

“Apprentice,” Gary coughed.

“Don’t explode my nipples!” Sir said as he stood up quickly, knocking his chair back. “I didn’t know it was you!”

“Wow,” I said. “That’s still a thing? And now it’s said about me? Sweet molasses.”

“Oh boy,” Ryan sighed. “This is something I’m never going to hear the end of.”

This might have been the greatest day of my life. “Babe! Did you hear that? He said—”

“Still standing right here.”

“But—”

“Don’t need to repeat it. Heard it enough the first time.”

And that’s when Tiggy decided to smash the table. But that was okay. He’d earned it.

****

“How’d you figure out we were gone?” I asked Ryan as we walked side by side toward the castle. The others were ahead of us, Gary and Justin bickering back and forth as Kevin tried to get them to agree to a threesome, Tiggy muttering to himself about his broom collection.

 Ryan bumped his shoulder against mine. “Hadn’t seen you in ten minutes or so. I figured you were probably getting into trouble.”

Huh. That was…probably more accurate than I cared to think about. “I could have handled it.”

“Oh, I know.”

“Do you?”

He shrugged. “Doesn’t hurt to have backup.” He blushed a little at that, and I struggled to not launch myself at him and potentially be arrested for lewd and lascivious conduct in the streets of the City.

“You’re my backup?”

“Shut up, Sam.”

“Nah, it’s out there, dude. You can never take it back now.”

“I regret everything.”

And I doubted that quite a bit. I could see the way he was fighting a losing battle against smiling, his lips quirking, eyes crinkling. To the world, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart was strong and brave, dashing and immaculate. And he was all those things, even to me. But he was so much more than that, more than what the people of Verania thought he was. For one, he was the world’s sappiest dork, something I never expected and would lord over him for the rest of our days.

“Come riding into my rescue,” I teased him. “Someone might think you’re a knight or something.”

“I always have to rescue you.”

“Pfft. I think you’ve got that a bit backward there.”

“Probably. But that’s okay.

 “How’d you know where we were?”

He reached up and wrapped an arm around my shoulders, pulling me close. My arm went around his waist and he tilted his forehead against me as we walked. “I always know where you are,” he murmured against my hair.

And my heart absolutely did not trip all over itself at that. Not at all, no sir. “Yeah, Gary was right. That does sound stalkery. You might want to curb that a little before someone gets the wrong idea that you want to put them in a hole in the basement. Pete told you, didn’t he.”

“Didn’t even hesitate when he narced on you.”
           

“That bastard. He needs to hurry up and retire so I can get away with things.”

            Ryan laughed in my ear. I didn’t think I’d ever heard a sound so wondrous.

“You guys coming, or are you going to be grossly in love some more and make everyone hate you?” Gary called back, sounding appropriately disgusted.
           

“HaveHeart for life, motherfuckers,” Tiggy said.

“We need to have a name like that,” Kevin said to Gary. “So everyone will know our love is real. Something wicked. Like…Kery. Or Gavin. Oooh. Or Dragoncorn.”

I can’t say that I was really listening to them. No, I was getting kissed within an inch of my life and thinking, Nothing can get better than this. This is my happy ending.

 

Announcement on the Future of Burn and Sequels to Withered + Sere

So, this sucks to have to write, but it's a reality I think all authors face at one point or another.

I have been so damn fortunate in that my books tend to sell really well. It's humbling and awesome that people like what I write, and I truly appreciate the position it's put me in.

However, not everything meets expectations, which can be humbling in itself. I have never thought myself better than any other MM author; in fact, I think there is room for anyone that wants to tell a story.

Bluntly: Withered + Sere and Crisped + Sere haven't sold like I expected. Therefore, there will be no more books in that series, even though the end note in C+S says there will be. It's disappointing, as I truly thought I'd built up enough trust for my readers to follow. And that, of course, is on me, not those who buy my books. You have the right to buy whatever you wish; after all, it is your hard earned money. But since this is now my sole source of income, I have make the hard decisions as to what I put my time into. W+S and C+S took two years to write, and I don't know that I can take such time again on a single work. It's rough, but it's reality. Risk sometimes yield reward; other times, it does not. Which means, for the first time, I'm going to have to weigh what I write with what will sell. And that's unfortunate, but again, reality. And it explains the lack of promotion I did for C+S, seeing as how W+S didn't sell as much as I thought it would. I tried to force myself to engage, but in my heart, I'd already written it off as a loss, and that's hard to overcome.

Along with that, it means there will be no Burn 2. The reason is that any sequel was also going to be published by Dreamspinner Press Publications (who did W+S and C+S), and again, I don't believe it would be financially successful enough for the time I put into it. I was initially sold on the idea of Dreamspinner Press Publications in that it was meant for more literature driven stories, where there would be reviews in places such as Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal, but that never happened. The books did not get promoted outside of the usual places (and THANK YOU for those that did, you guys are truly the best).

I'm sorry to those who have waited for a sequel. I didn't come to this decision lightly, nor do I do it from a place of anger or self-pity. I write for a living, which means I have to make a living doing it. Comedies sell. Werewolves sell. Kids sell. Risks sometimes do too. But sometimes they don't. And that's okay.

You lick your wounds, and then get back up and try, try, try again.