One year ago today, Alexa Land was born. And what a wild, amazing ride it's been!
On December 19, 2012, I took a chance and self-published Way Off Plan on Amazon. That leap of faith changed my life forever. The book had just been rejected by a major M/M publisher, and I took the rejection pretty hard. At the same time, though, I believed in my story and characters. I felt I'd made something that would entertain people and make them feel good. So I decided, to hell with publishers. I could get my book to its intended audience without anyone's help.
I independently published it on Amazon, and then I braced myself. I honestly expected it to just get swallowed up in that giant sea of books, and didn't think anyone would ever find it.
But you did, just a few of you at first, and then a few more. Good reviews started coming in. And more copies sold. To my amazement, Way Off Plan broke into the top ten in gay fiction on Amazon, then the top five.
All In followed, in time for Valentine's Day of this year. I was pretty sure Way Off Plan had been a fluke, so I didn't have very high expectations for All In. But it did even better than its predecessor.
Those successes encouraged me to publish Feral, which I'd written the previous summer, but had let sit on my computer for months. It was a different kind of story, and I wasn't sure how it would catch on. To my delight and amazement, Feral hit number one in gay fiction on Amazon, and went on to be nominated for a Rainbow Award. It even became a semifinalist.
Over the next several months, I worked on the book I'm most proud of: In Pieces. I published it in early July, 2013. My labor of love held the number one position in gay fiction on Amazon for two weeks, and sold more than anything I'd ever written. More importantly, so many of you took Christopher into your hearts, and wrote to tell me how his story touched your lives. I was completely overcome with joy and gratitude.
Then one random Tuesday morning (a week to the day after In Pieces was published, incidentally), my husband of nineteen years ended our marriage. It came out of the blue. Suddenly, my whole world was in a tail spin.
Everything changed. Overnight, writing went from a hobby to a career. I was under financial pressure now, worried about being able to keep my home, being able to pay for my own health insurance, and a million other things.
There was so much to deal with that I could barely think about writing. Hardest of all was only seeing my ten year old son half the time, since
my ex wanted 50/50 custody. That, more than anything, continues to
break my heart. I also had major surgery, just weeks after my husband left. All my energy was channeled into healing, while at the same time mourning the end of the longest, most significant relationship of my life.
But now, here I am. I've come out the other side stronger than ever. I reignited my passion for writing over these last couple months, and it's very much been, to borrow from an old song, my bridge over troubled water. I'm more grateful than ever that I get to write, to do what I love, every single day.
Before last December 19th, I was just a full-time mom named Audrey. While I love being a mom, I'd allowed my personal hopes and dreams to be pushed to the back burner. I barely knew who I was anymore.
But then, I invented Alexa and I took a chance. I put a book out there, and hoped for the best. And because of each and every one of you, my readers, my expectations were wildly exceeded. I can now call myself a writer. I'm getting to do the thing I dreamed of since childhood, and I'm so happy that this is my life.
Just now, I finished writing Gathering Storm, the next book in my Firsts and Forever series!! I am always so happy when I finish a book! It's a good thing I was alone when I wrote those final words, because...um...a happy dance may or may not have occurred, and if such a thing DID occur, no one should see that, because talk about embarrassing! Picture Elaine from Seinfeld dancing, but with more fist pumping. So not pretty! :)
Now it's time to edit, edit, edit, then turn it over to my beloved beta readers, all with the goal of making it just as good as it possibly can be. I will have it out to you in just a few short weeks. I'm so excited to bring you Hunter's story. We're in the home stretch now, my friends!
I'm happy to report that Gathering Storm is coming along wonderfully. I've made great progress on it these past few weeks, and the first draft is just days from completion. I'll let you know when I hit that milestone, and when I have a publication date in sight.
While you wait, I came across a beautiful little video about love and marriage and thought I'd share. You can find it here. Enjoy! <3
Because some of you requested it, all my four of my full-length novels are now available in paperback form. Way Off Plan and All In were already available in print, and now In Pieces and Feral are, too. In Pieces can be found here, and Feral is available here.
I don't love Amazon's print-on-demand service, because the cover price ends up quite high, and I strive to keep my books affordable. In Pieces turned out to be particularly expensive because it's long (about ninety thousand words) -- and believe me when I say, that's not profit (I will make around ninety cents per copy, just FYI). But for those of you that wanted an alternative to ebooks, now you have it.
Hi all! I wanted to give you an update on the fourth book in my Firsts and Forever series, which I'm still in the process of writing. It's called Gathering Storm, and it picks up where In Pieces left off. The book will be published in January, 2014, and here's a sneak peek at the cover I recently put together. I was thrilled to find a model incredibly close to what Hunter looks like in my mind's eye:
Hi, friends. I wanted to draw your attention to a documentary airing this Sunday, October 27th, at 10 p.m. EST on OWN (Oprah's network). It will be available on Netflix the same day.
It's called Bridegroom, and it's a story of loss, and of discrimination. But first and foremost, it's a story of love. It speaks profoundly to the struggles faced by our LGBT brothers and sisters. I hope you'll set your DVR, because I think this is such an important film.
Please visit GLAAD's website for more information. It includes a touching interview with Shane Bitney Crone, the young man who lost his partner, Tom Bridegroom, and had to deal not only with that tragedy, but also with the terrible aftermath. I've reprinted an excerpt of that interview below, it brought me to tears.
When asked what he hoped people would take away from this film, here's how Shane responded:
"Whether you are gay or straight, I hope you will see this movie, and
appreciate that Tom and I were just two boys who fell in love. Nothing
more, nothing less. It is not a film about revenge, or making people
feel sorry for me--it’s simply another love story. I think it will
inspire people to live their lives honestly, to fall in love deeply, and
to fight for the rights of people who are being treated like second
class citizens. Love is love. Loss is loss. At the end of the day we are
all human and we all just want to be happy and treated equally. I want
people to see that Tom and I loved each other very much, but because we
weren't married, his family and the government treated me as if I was
merely his roommate."
Thought I'd check in and let you know that I've been hard at work on book four in my Firsts and Forever series, which is Hunter's story (and still untitled at this point). It's coming right along, and I've been having fun watching the story evolve and find its way.
Christopher is a major supporting character in this next book, by the way. The loose ends intentionally left open at the end of In Pieces were always meant to carry over into Hunter's book. A couple of you were concerned that those questions would forever go unanswered. And to you I say, have a little faith. ;)
Ideally, I'd love to have this book out by Christmas. But every time I
say something like that, my life totally implodes, and I miss my self-imposed deadline. So I should just
shut up and leave it at: it will be out before you know it. :)
A few months ago, I found out that a reader had nominated one of my books, Feral, for a Rainbow Award. Today, I learned that my book is a finalist in the paranormal romance category! They even sent me the nifty graphic below. How cool is that?!
Feral was the very first m/m romance I ever wrote, and after I completed it, I let it sit on my computer for several months. I just wasn't sure it would catch on, and I didn't publish it until Way Off Plan and All In had found an audience. Feral went on to become the first of my books to hit number one in gay fiction on Amazon.
The moral of the story? Go ahead and take a chance. You never know where it might lead you! :)
The second Tinder novella is getting its final polish, with an anticipated publication date on Amazon of Friday, September 27th. To celebrate its release, I've put the first installment of The Tinder Chronicles on sale for a limited time. You can find it here.
Thank you to my readers that have taken the time to email me and let me know you're looking forward to more Tinder! It's so very appreciated!
Below is a little teaser. It's the first page of Hunted. Enjoy.:)
being such a wuss and pull the goddamn trigger!
I sighted down the
length of the homemade crossbow in my hands and lined up my shot. I had to
adjust the angle slightly, because the slim wooden stake it fired would be
smashing through glass before it reached its target.
And again, I hesitated.
on, what the hell are you waiting for? I chided myself. He’s a damn vampire. Not only that, he’s a damn
vampire that can walk in daylight. Just shoot him already!
The vampire in question
was named Nikolai. And the thing that was stopping me from reducing him to a
snack for dust mites was the cute little human at his side. Nate.
During a recent
prolonged hostage situation, Nate and I had become friends (I had been the
hostage. And no, I wasn’t totally bonkers and suffering from a raging case of
Stockholm syndrome, but thanks for assuming that). Nate and Nikolai now incorrectly
believed they’d been erased from my memory. They thought they were safe from
So there they were, in
the kitchen of their tiny light blue cottage, cleaning up together after dinner.
They did this every night, always with the curtains wide open. They were such creatures
of habit, which made Nikolai an incredibly easy mark.
I was sprawled out on
my belly, on the hillside directly across the street from their house. Since the
breeze was blowing my scent away from them, the vamp didn’t know I was here. That
was kind of stupid, though. I mean, scent or no scent, I wasn’t exactly
invisible in the dark. Not to a vampire.
my God, just end him! I’d been out here for about an hour,
and parts of me were going numb. Plus, I was pretty sure some ants had found
their way up the right leg of my jeans, and it itched like crazy. It was so
stupid that I was stalling like this. I shifted slightly, lined up my shot…and failed
to pull the trigger.
I was going soft.
That’s all there was to it. The fact that I’d let a hundred perfect shots go by
What difference did it
make that he was married to a human, and that I happened to like that human?
The bloodsucker was dangerous, more so than most because of the incredibly rare
daylight talisman in his possession. It was completely irresponsible of me not
to dust him.
And for the love of
God, now the vamp was standing directly in front of the window, reaching up to
put something on a shelf above it. It was like he wanted to be shot. I sighted down the crossbow. Again. And I didn’t pull the trigger. Again. I sighed dramatically and whacked
my forehead against the dry grass a few times. When I looked up, the vampire
was smiling at Nate, saying something to him as he grabbed a set of keys and
stepped out the front door.
For those of you that have been eagerly awaiting the next installment of The Tinder Chronicles (all six of you, heh!), good news: I've just finished writing it, and am now moving into editing. I should have it to you in a few days.
I decided to use the same main cover image for all the books in this ongoing serial:
I don't know if that's a brilliant idea, or a really stupid one!
Here's a random fun fact about that cover, by the way: I knew I wanted to include a wooden stake, but couldn't find a stock photo I liked. So, I actually went out in my back yard and whittled a stake out of a 2x2 (with the help of my kiddo, which I think makes me a pretty interesting mom, hahaha!) and then stained and distressed it to make it look old. Viola -- a vampire hunter's best friend! Sometimes it's fun to be me. :)
Ok, I'm going to get back to work. But just a reminder before I go: be sure to follow the link in my last blog post to watch a truly exceptional short film about young love. It's one of the most moving things I've seen in a while.
What a tumultuous summer this has been! There have been epic highs and such very low lows. As mentioned in a previous post, my 19 year marriage ended a few weeks ago, which threw my world off its axis. And yesterday, I had major surgery, which I was scared about but which went perfectly. I'm back at home in my own bed now and recovering well, so all is good there.
Sandwiched in between those two negatives was the most wonderful positive: I got to take my nine year old son on an amazing vacation, a Disney cruise to Alaska, and it was pure magic. That was my first major purchase with the money I've made from my writing, and I owe all of my readers a huge hug, because your support made that dream come true!
In between all of that, I've been writing sporadically, working simultaneously on both the next installment of Tinder and on Hunter's story. I can't say with any certainty when they'll be finished. I know better than to try to promise things by a certain date, given how very unpredictable life is these days. But know that no matter what, I will keep writing, and will try to get Tinder finished just as soon as I possibly can.
I'm hard at work on the second installment of the Tinder Chronicles. It should be out around the end of August or early September. For those of you that have asked, there is no preplanned number for that series, I'll keep writing them as long as there's a demand, and as long as it stays fun. :)
The same goes for my Firsts and Forever series. I previously announced plans for a fourth book in that series, which will be Hunter's story. I'll keep writing these books as long as my readers keep enjoying them and asking for more.
Since the Firsts and Forever books really aren't sequels and always have different main characters, it's not limited to a set number. Even though some characters carry over from one story to the next, I've always intentionally written each book so it can stand alone. That way, readers can come in anywhere in the series without feeling lost.
A few people have asked when they can expect Hunter's story. And the answer is -- good question. :) Christopher's story took me a solid five months, and it's probably reasonable to expect Hunter's story will take the same. That would put it around a Christmas release date. It really depends on how easily this one comes together, how much life gets in the way of my writing, and so forth. My advice is to just keep checking back on my blog, I always post updates here.
By the way, December will also be my one year anniversary as a writer. It's been quite a ride, let me tell you. :)
I don't talk about my personal life on this blog very often, but I wanted to tell you what's happened over the last couple weeks. My spouse of almost two decades ended our marriage. Suddenly, I find my own life in pieces.
I know in the long run, this will be a good thing. We weren't happy, not even close. And maybe somewhere down the road, this will give me a shot at happiness. But in the short term, there are grey days ahead.
On a positive note, throughout all of that sadness and heartbreak, In Pieces held in the number one position in gay fiction on Amazon for over two weeks. And many of you have taken the time to write to me and tell me how much you enjoyed the book, and leave positive reviews on Amazon. Your kind words have been such a bright spot at a time when I've really needed that -- so much more than you know.
So once again, thank you. This is definitely a time to remind myself of all I have to be grateful for, and my readers are at the top of that list.
I returned from Seattle late last night, and was absolutely thrilled to see that In Pieces had made it into the number one spot in gay fiction on Amazon! Thank you so much to all my wonderful readers for making that happen!
And a huge thanks to those of you that have taken the time to leave such amazing reviews on Amazon! Wow -- over a dozen five-star reviews!! That's truly an honor, and a big reason why the book has taken off like this. I'm so incredibly grateful, and just can't thank you enough. :)
As you may have noticed, I didn't promise a fourth book in the Firsts and Forever series at the end of In Pieces. That was because I really wanted to see how Christopher's story did before committing to continuing the series. Now that so many people are embracing In Pieces and leaving such wonderful reviews, I'm so happy to announce:
There will be a fourth book in the Firsts and Forever series. It will be Hunter's story, and it will also feature Christopher, Nana, and other characters that you've grown to love.
I love writing these characters, they feel like part of my family. And because of your support, they get to live on. So, a million thanks again! I'm incredibly lucky to have such great readers, and I appreciate you more than I can say.
That's the day In Pieces should go live on Amazon. It's getting a final read-through this weekend. I know many of you have been eagerly awaiting this one, and the wait is almost over! It ended up quite long by the way, 91K words, which I think will make many of my readers happy. I look forward to hearing from you once you've read it!
For those of you following the contest on this blog over the last few days, here's the answer to my trivia question:
The hat was a replica of one worn by the character Jayne Cobb (played by Adam Baldwin, pictured below) in a wonderful though short-lived TV show airing in 2002 called Firefly. The show was by the brilliant Joss Whedon, and starred oh-so-sexy Nathan Fillion. While it ran less than a full season, it has a rabid cult following to this day. If you've never seen it, do yourself a favor and check it out on Netflix!
Maybe forty percent of you actually got the right answer, the quickest being Ann from San Diego, who won the first of two gift cards on Sunday.
Other popular answers were Sheldon from Big Bang Theory and Griffin from Men in Black 3 -- excellent guesses! And of course there were a fair number of readers that just emailed me and said, "OMG I have no clue!" And that also got them entered in the drawing! :)
Thank you to all who entered the contest! It was a delight getting to hear from some of my readers. I'm going to go and draw the name of the gift card winner out of the knit hat now. He/she will be contacted by email and I'll publish their first name here this afternoon!
The first of two $20 Amazon gift cards that I'm giving away was won in a matter of minutes Sunday by the lovely and talented Ann of San Diego, California. All hail Ann and her mad geek skills!! :)
I will post the answer to my Nerd-Off trivia question here on Wednesday, by the way, so you can keep guessing until then!
And don't forget: you can enter the random drawing for the second $20 Amazon gift card from now through noon PST Wednesday 6/26/13 (see contest details in the last post). You don't even have to know the right answer to win! Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a random guess to the trivia question in Sunday's blog post and you're entered in the drawing. Easy peasy! The winner will be announced Wednesday afternoon.
It's been a blast getting to hear from so many readers that have never contacted me before! I love knowing there are actually people out there, and I'm not just talking to myself on this blog! :)
Here it is, kids, as promised in yesterday's blog post: the first ever Alexa Land Nerd-Off!!!
What is that? Why, it's a trivia contest. Two winners will each receive a $20 (USD) Amazon gift card, sent directly to whatever email address you use to contact me. Don't worry, I'm not going to share or publish your email address, pinky promise.
First, all the fine print:
The contest runs for 72 hours, beginning at 12 noon PST Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 and concluding Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 at 12 noon PST. Only emails received during that time period are eligible for the prize.
Winners must be 18 or older and will be selected as follows:
1. The first person to email me with the correct answer to the trivia question below gets one of the $20 Amazon gift cards.
2. The second winner will be chosen at random from all the emails I receive, and this winner doesn't need to know the answer to the trivia question! That's right, even if you don't know the answer, email me anyway! Take a completely random, wild guess. Or just say hi. Tell me a joke. Or just complain incessantly about something, that's usually what my kid does. Though if you go with that option, be aware that I will probably send you to time out. ;)
Ok, enough with all the rules and regulations!
Without further ado, I give you THE NERD-OFF!
Take a look at the photo below. It's a replica of a knit hat worn by a character in a science fiction movie or television show. I can neither confirm nor deny that I actually own this hat. That would be too dorky to admit, after all.
In order to win the first $20 Amazon gift card, email me with:
1. the name of the character that wore this hat
2. the name of the movie or television show in which he or she appeared
3. your name and location.
First person to email me with the right answer wins one of the gift cards.
Even if you don't know the answer, email me anyway with a wild guess and your name and location and you will be entered into a random drawing for the second $20 Amazon gift card!
Again, you must be 18 or older to play. Sorry, kids. Winners will be contacted via email. Your first name only will be published on my blog if you win -- I absolutely swear to respect your privacy. Your full name and email address will not be published.
Remember, you need to email me before noon on Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 to win. Have fun and good luck!!
So, as many of you have noticed (and some commented on), I tend to slip a few nerdy sci fi references into pretty much all of my books. Well, sadly, my current work-in-progress, In Pieces, is a bit light on nerdtastic details. It got me thinking, how can I nerd up this book a little?
Well, good news: I can't. Christopher, my main character from In Pieces, is far less of a geek than I am.
But what I can do instead is host a CONTEST right here on my blog with a science fiction theme -- because I suspect I'm not the only nerd out there. ;)
So here's what's gonna happen: tomorrow, Sunday, June 23rd at 12 noon Pacific Standard Time, I'm going to post a science fiction trivia question here on my blog. It will relate to either sci fi movies or television.
There will be 2 winners. Each will receive a $20 Amazon gift card, emailed to whatever address you use to contact me. Winner #1 will be that awesome individual that emails me first with the right answer to my trivia question.
But even if you're not a huge geek (and my condolences if this is the case ;) ) and don't know the answer, you can still win!! The second winner will be chosen at random from all the emails I receive in the designated 3-day time period, right answer or not!! That's right: you don't have to know the answer to win! Just play along!!
Got it? Good. Come back tomorrow and let's have some fun. :D
...I finished writing the very last scene for In Pieces. It's done!!!
Well, the writing part anyway. It'll take a couple weeks to get it nicely polished and edited, but it will be in your hands before you know it. I'm shooting for publishing it on Amazon before the 4th of July.
It's been a long process. Fortunately, some of my readers kept encouraging me along the way, and I'm so grateful for that. The occasional friendly email really helped me stay positive and motivated.
I think I did Christopher's story justice. I hope you agree. And I so look forward to getting this book to you!
Thank you to all who've taken the time to write to me and let me know you're enjoying Tinder, my paranormal erotic novella now available on Amazon. I always love hearing from my readers, it absolutely makes my day.
This week I've been back at work on In Pieces, Christopher's story, which is the third book in my Firsts and Forever series.
Here's an interesting fact (at least to me): I've received more email about Christopher than about all my other characters combined. And I think that's why I'm struggling a bit in telling his story. I really want to get it right, for all the readers that already love him, and for all that will be meeting him for the first time in In Pieces.
So, while I continue to drag this out and make you suffer (lol!), here are a couple tidbits to tide you over. First of all, I've been messing with the book's cover, here's the latest iteration:
Not sure if this is better than the last version, or merely different. What do you think?
Next, I'm posting the following speech, which I wrote for Christopher when I first started working on this book. It may not appear in the finished novel. But it gives some insight into the character and explains where that title came from, so I thought you might enjoy it:
I live my life in pieces.
There are all these different parts of me, parts I
can’t bring together. There’s the hooker, the student, the artist, the best
friend. The lost boy.
Will the real Christopher Andrews please stand up?
Nah, then again, don’t.
This is my life right now. It doesn’t matter which
of these is the real me.
I’m a collection of fragments, bits of something
broken, loosely scooped together in an open hand. And that’s the best I can
hope for right now. The only way I can be. Yes, I exist in pieces, but I’m
holding them together.
I’m holding me together.
And I’m getting through today.
Finally, I want to let you know that I'll be posting a sneak peek of the first chapter of In Pieces in the next few days. Check back here for the link.