Welcome to January’s Birthday Blog, with a post – or maybe more – a day for your entertainment and fun :).
Today’s guest is ALEX JANE. Please show your appreciation for the post if you enjoy it, and all the author’s links are below for you to take forward. Watch every day for any Rafflecopter giveaways, and don’t forget there’s ALSO a Grand Prize Draw at the end of the month for ONE lucky commenter.
Many thanks for dropping in, and have a great January!
The Road So Far…
I’m new to the world of M/M. Like…really new.
Two and a half years ago, I had never read any kind of romance novel, let alone any gay fiction. I only picked up my first M/M novel four months ago. But somehow, in less than three weeks I’ll be seeing my first story published. It’s only a short, but it’s a start. But right now, my head is reeling at how on earth I got to be here in the first place.
I have always made up stories in my head. I guess that’s what happens when you love stories, and reading, and you’re left to your own devices. But I never really had the confidence to commit anything to paper. The narratives in my head seemed too ethereal and vague to translate to words on a page. I had no idea how to even begin.
But I finally got up the courage, and started trying to write something concrete about six years ago. It was bad, and as much as I tried to stay positive and tell myself I could only get better, it’s very easy to get disheartened when you’re scribbling away alone with no-one to give you feedback. Getting the odd, That’s lovely, Dear, or in my case, Well, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, from your loved ones doesn’t really give you the chance to prove your literary mettle much.
Luckily, I found fan fiction. I liked a show. The show was on hiatus. I figured maybe I could read some stuff about the show on the Internet. Hey Presto! I read a fair amount of bad fic before I found an author who was rather good. And by looking at who she was reading, I found myself amongst a group of writers, who were not only exceptional authors in their own individual ways, but also unceasingly generous with their time and patience when it came to helping me be a better writer myself.
And not only with the technical stuff. Sure, they would point out my horrible grammar, and God-awful punctuation, but there was also cheering, and pompoms, and cyber-hugs. There was – and is – a relentless stream of encouragement and faith to jolly me along when I realise that I’ve posted something that changes tense halfway through, or when my muse buggers off with the plot bunnies to Bermuda for a month and I have a deadline looming. Without that support, I would have never have kept trying. I’m convinced of that.
And of course, fan fiction brought me into the world of M/M. That story that I had tried so hard to make work years before? Turns out, if you cast two hot guys in the main roles, everything becomes so much easier. Probably because I’m so much more comfortable writing fiction. Keeping my character’s experiences as far from mine as possible seems to work.
But even with the fandom challenges and reader prompts, my eye was always on publication. I don’t know why it’s always been so important to me, but getting a book into print has always been on my to-do list. I think when I was young I heard some quote about how there’s one book inside everyone, and my slightly literal brain figured that it was something that I should be able to do in that case. And given that I have always spent so much time making up stories in my head anyway, it didn’t seem like too much of a stretch. How hard could writing one book be?
So last year, when everyone I knew online was talking about fandom conventions, I started thinking that there seemed to be a convention for practically everything at the time, there must be one for people writing gay fiction, right?
Which is how I ended up at UK Meet in September. Specifically for the panel titled Moving from Fanfiction to Original Fiction. You couldn’t – as they say – make it up. It was too perfect. How could I not go?
It was my first foray into the world of M/M and I couldn’t have asked for a better beginning.
In a sense, the fact that I went in blind, not knowing who anyone – any authors – was, turned out to be a blessing. At that point I hadn’t so much as looked at Amazon listings, let alone read any published M/M. I think if I had, I would have never had the courage to strike up a conversation with some guy about how he felt about women writing gay characters knowing it was Liam Livings. I was kind of bemused when someone grasped my arm and whispered, “Oh my God, that’s RJ Scott.” My reply was an oblivious, “Oh yeah, I was just talking to her. She’s really nice!”
If I had known the kind of company I was in…well, I would have sat in the corner and not said a word. Ignorance, for once, was indeed bliss.
A little like signing up to do this guest post. I saw Clare’s call out, and thought it might be fun. Now, looking at the list of contributors, I feel a little queasy. I guess it’s the peril of being the new girl. RJ did warn me that it could be a bit disconcerting moving from fandom to M/M, “going from being a big fish in a small pond, to being a small fish in a big pond.” Except of course, I was already a rather small fish in the small pond. No pressure then.
But I’m finding the world of M/M, not unlike that of fandom. There seem to be similar issues, that I guess all disparate communities must face, but also the generosity is there. From that very first day when I walked into The Marriott in Bristol and shakily wrote my pen name on the lanyard, I feel like I’ve had such a lot of support, great advice, and been made to feel so welcome and so very, very motivated.
It feels like forever ago but it’s only been four months. In that time, I finally finished the edits to make my first story – the one I started six years ago – into something like a finished manuscript ready to submit to the RNA’s New Authors Scheme. I’ve also been lucky enough to have my short story chosen by Love Lane Books for their Valentine’s anthology that comes out next month. So, my words are going to be in real, actual (okay, virtual) print!
So, that’s it. That’s the story so far. I still don’t really have a clue what I’m doing, but I feel that if I just put my head down and write what I really believe in, and listen to the advice of the new friends I’m making, the way I listen to my fandom Family who still encourage and support me, then it will all work out. There’s a saying that if you want to travel quickly, travel alone, but if you want to go far, travel together. I feel really lucky that I’m not in this thing alone.
And quite frankly, I’m kind of excited to find out what happens next!
BIO: Wannabe novelist with an even more implausible job in real-life, Alex finally got around to writing down the stories she had spent most of her life crafting in her head, under the shadow of a significant birthday.
With only a one-eyed dog and a horrifyingly muddled music collection to help her along, her stories focus on finding love and keeping it. And if her characters have to go through Hell to get there…she’s okay with that.
Alex lives, works, and watches too much TV in Brighton, UK.
Valentine Delights is a collection of free stories to celebrate Valentine’s Day – Happy Ever After’s guaranteed.
Available from Love Lane Books from the 12th February 2016
Clare: REMEMBER! registration for the UK MEET 2016 begins Jan 28, with priority to newsletter subscribers.
Follow the month’s posts at your leisure:
Jan 01: RJ Scott on her inspiration for a new series in 2016.
Jan 01: Temple Dragon on giving for free during December.
Jan 02: Chrissy Munder on an author’s passion for paper planners.
Jan 03: Meredith Russell on inspirational cop series.
Jan 04: Becky Black on her five-year anniversary as an author.
Jan 05: Alexa Milne on characters stepping outside their comfort zone.
Jan 06: Sandra Lindsey on her dancing shoes challenge.
Jan 07: Anne Barwell on her WWII trilogy at Dreamspinner Press.
Jan 08: Elin Gregory on reviews – past, present and future.
Jan 09: Eli Easton on mature heroes and our life choices.
Jan 10: Julie Moffett on the geek in us all.
Jan 11: Jaime Samms and the rewards of an online life.
Jan 12: LC Chase on paying kindness forward.
Jan 12: EM Lynley on the recipes that add taste to her books.
Jan 13: Nicki J Markus on falling in love with her characters.
Jan 14: Vicktor Alexander on giving thanks to friends and fans.
Jan 16: Joanna Chambers on the spark of joy from reading and writing romance.
Jan 17: Jordan Castillo Price on esteem-building new year do-overs.
Jan 18: Lillian Francis on deciding on when to come to an end.
Jan 18: Hunter Frost on a Top Ten new anthology.
Jan 19: Lily Harlem on hot fiction and cool drinks.
Jan 19: Liam Livings on how writing is like ski-ing.
Jan 20: JL Merrow on being a boot-aholic.
Jan 21: Paul Alan Fahey on growing up gay in the 1950/60s.
Jan 22: Mickie B Ashling on her new period novel set in Pakistan.
Jan 22: BJ Sheppard on his new cover services business.
Jan 23: Aimee Brissay on her publishing plans for 2016.
Jan 24: Sarah Madison on her age anorexia.
Jan 25: Deanna Wadsworth on the Rainbow Romance Writers Chapter of RWA.