BTS (Not the KPop Group)

Did you ever wonder what happens from inception to the end of the writing process? If you’re a fellow writer, you probably aren’t unfamiliar with it. However, for readers, the writing process seems like a magical ritual where words spew forth from a writer’s brain and appear on a page right before their eyes as their eyes roll back in their head and they chant some dark spell.

Fact Check: very few of us actually invoke the dark forces to write our books. I’ve done it twice at the most.

Like any other job, writing a book (or anything) has a process. Steps that have to be taken (not necessarily in what’s considered the “proper” order). Today, I’m going to give you all a Behind the Scenes look at what happens when I write a new book.

From the beginning…to the end.

Step 1

Desperately try to think of an idea.

Scour your brain every second of every day. Wring your hands. Pull your hair out of your head. Hiss at the sun as it rises and growl up at the moon. All day long, think of what would make a dynamic story.

Finally, like a bolt of lightning to the brain, have an idea strike you while you’re showering and do not have access to your phone or other ways to jot down notes as the ideas invade your brain like ravenous zombies.

You can also wait until you’re just drifting off to sleep to think of your idea(s) and then grab your phone from the bedside table to take down your thoughts, thus shining blue light in your face that will keep you from falling asleep for another half hour. Up to you.

In all seriousness, ideas come from a lot of places. Maybe they’re prompted by a single idea for a character. Or a quote. A movie. A song. Something from the writer’s life or something they observed. It doesn’t really matter where the idea came from.

It’s just the first step.

Once an idea starts to form, notetaking and mental filing begin.

Step 2

Outlining, plotting, character sheets, world-building, and lots of other things that keep you distracted from having to write that perfect first line that will draw readers in immediately.

Okay. So, this step looks different to every writer. It depends on if they are a plotter, pantser, or plantser. Or a combination of two or three. Some writers choose to just dive in and see what happens (pantser). Some writers choose to make a few notes and a rough outline (plantser). Other writers want to do all of the things mentioned above (plotter).

Regardless, a writer needs to have–in their head, at the bare minimum–who their characters are, what’s going to happen, and where it’s going to happen. They need to know the POV. They need to know the beginning, the middle, and the end.

The rest is negotiable.

Then again, if a writer is a true pantser, they might just wing it. Some amazing things can happen when a writer gives themselves the freedom to just write and see what comes out.

I’ve been a pantser, plantser, and plotter at different times, depending on the book. Sometimes I am a combination. Things usually go best when I plants.

Step 3

Write those words.

Right after checking Twitter, the DMs, emails, Buzzfeed, CNN, BoredPanda, Wordle, a few rounds of Among Us, and going into your husband’s office to see if you can annoy him in some way.

For me, the writing is the hardest part. Whether I am winging it or going off of an outline, getting the words down is difficult.

This is because it takes focus, concentration, as few distractions as possible, and discipline. Even if you’re an average typist and can manage 40 words a minute, you’re only going to manage to get 2400 words down in an hour of writing.

Most writers I know can manage a half-hour or one hour of writing a day. Maybe less. Most writers have day jobs because until a project takes off and finds a huge audience, writing for a living is not possible for many writers.

So, at best, a writer will get 2400 words in an hour of writing. That’s if they know exactly what they want to write. To technically qualify as a novel, 50,000 words are needed, and most novels are longer than that.

Technically, a writer, as described above, can have a novel in 20.84 days.

But that’s incredibly unrealistic. Unless it’s NaNoWriMo season.

Plenty of writers have written 50k+ words during the month of November, year after year. It’s pretty rare that what’s written during that month because a complete and ready to go novel, though. To do that, tons of preparation work is needed during the first ten months of the year. And those aforementioned dark forces are called upon.

I’ve managed it once. ONCE.

Regardless, let’s assume that a writer needs 1-6 months to write an “okay” first draft manuscript.

Step 4+

Developmental editing. Alpha readers. Editing. Beta readers. More editing. Sensitivity readers. More editing. Line edits. Proofreading. Cover design. Interior design. Getting ISBNs (or not). Copyrighting (or not). The next several months or years after a first draft is done is all of these things.

This is if the writer is self-published or indie.

If a writer goes the traditional publishing route, this process is definitely years. Querying agents. Rejections, half-requests, full-requests, rejections. Then…they (hopefully) get signed before they give up on their book. The agent and writer work together to make the manuscript even better. Maybe get more readers to give it another pass. Try to sell the manuscript to a publisher.

And the process of editing and reading starts over again.

Writing a book is an arduous process that might produce a product that never ends up in the hands of the general public. Even if it does, there’s zero guarantee readers will even care. Or like it.

It really makes you wonder why writers…write. Right? Right.

Well, I write because it’s a big part of who I am. I can’t not write. I’ve also addressed why I write here.

Regardless, here is how one of my latest projects went through the steps mentioned above.

POSSIBLY TEXAS

In September of 2020, I came up with an idea for a quirky little town and the teenage boy who ends up there after spending most of his life on the road with his mother.

For two months, I plotted and drafted and brainstormed. I knew the first third of the book would be introducing the town, the cast, and setting several plot lines into motion. And it would be at least 50k. So, I focused on that part of the book. There was NO WAY I was going to write the entire book in one month. But I could get in the first 50k words.

When NaNoWriMo 2020 commenced, I wrote those words in 21-ish days, declared myself NaNoWriMo Winner, and moved on to other things for the rest of 2020. All through the first six months of 2021, I plotted and planned the rest of the book, wrote words when I could–in between other projects–worked with my developmental editor, had alpha readers read it, edited, beta readers, blah blah blah.

I made playlists and character sheets and fleshed out scenes and went back and changed dialogue and mythology. Changed scenes and dialogue that gave too much of the plot away too early. I rinsed, repeated, then rinsed and repeated several more times.

I worked, worked, fucking worked.

And now…POSSIBLY TEXAS is done.

Seventeen months from idea to completion. Right now, I’m dying to get the book in the hands of readers.

I hope they love it.

It’s not magic. It’s commitment, focus, and drive.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,
Chase

PS – Don’t forget to check out the first ever Author Quick-Fire Questions with Jessica Calla!

PPS – Have you seen my “Indie Recommends Indie” on Armed with A Book?

Begin Again

Happy New Year/New Blog Post, my reader-friends! I hope you’ve all arrived healthy, happy, and hopeful. The last two years have been…something. Right? It feels like we’ve all been in suspended animation for a while. We’re all starting to figure out how to live life again with new rules and guidelines.

Now that I mention it…

Do you ever stop and wonder how you’ll ever start again?

Well, if you haven’t read my previous posts ‘A New Adventure‘ and ‘Adieu,’ they might give some much-needed context for this post.

Leaving 2021 (and every other year behind), 2022 is the year I really stretch my legs as a writer.

As mentioned in the two posts I’ve linked, Young Adult is something I’m leaving behind. It has served its purpose for me, but I need more. Specifically, from my writing life.

I don’t want to have the first post of the year be about what I’ve written about enough already. So, I won’t rehash all of the “Young Adult Stuff.” I also don’t want to have the first post of the year be one in which I ramble incoherently.

Instead, I want to say that I am starting anew. Chase Connor, the writer, is a new man. He’s going to try new, exciting, things. He’s going to see what all he can be as a writer. And he invites you to come along for the trip.

I hate people who talk in the third person. Someone tell me to shut up, please.

So, I hope everyone is excited about a new leg of our journey together. I promise to deliver lots of engaging, exciting stories, great characters, and intricate plots to keep you flipping pages.

This is also a good time to let everyone know that I’m going back to the pre-COVID posting schedule. There will be a blog post on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month. Twice a month, every month.

To give a preview of what’s to come–in case you haven’t been paying attention–lots of great books on the way. This year will bring:

TRICKED: THE MEN OF BRIEFLY BUDDIES on Kindle Vella. POSSIBLY TEXAS–a magical realism story set in a fictional town full of quirky characters and locales. THE WARMTH OF OUR CLOSEST STAR–the sequel to BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE. THATCHER GRAVES AND THE DEMON’S CURSE (THE THATCHER GRAVES SERIES – BOOK ONE)–a fantasy/paranormal series. And there might be some JACOB MICHAELS IS… thrown in for good measure.

In case you missed it on Twitter, I’ve also announced the sequel to A SURPLUS OF LIGHT, THE BEES AND OTHER WILD THINGS, is being prepared for publication.

More on that in time…

So, a lot of exciting things are on the way! I can’t wait to share them all with you. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few book covers to whet your appetites.

We’ll be “talking” soon.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Adieu

Thanks to COVID-19, the last two years have been…long.

Difficult.

Troubling.

Sad.

Frustrating.

But also…joyous.

Though the world has been embroiled in turmoil (that kind of rhymes, right?) since March of 2020, it hasn’t all been bad. I’ve gotten to spend more time with my SAM–I mean, it would have been difficult not to considering we were all told to STAY HOME! I’ve had more time to read, watch T.V., see movies, and pick up new hobbies–a failed attempt at a bookshelf nook insert, and a pretty successful go at cross-stitch. I had a blast with both! I’ve listened to and discovered more music. I’ve cooked and baked more. I’ve reached out more to friends via text and phone and DMs and email since I couldn’t see them in person as was usual before March 2020. I learned more about other cultures and started up an Among Us Geeks group on Twitter–it started as a dozen writers playing the game for stress relief and evolved into a much larger group of general geeks. The group has kind of gone quiet, but there is still a handful of us hardcore players still around. I’ve organized and cleaned more. I spent more time with my dog.

Also, did you know Mexico banned cosmetic companies from testing on animals? Portugal enacted mental health laws so employers can’t contact employees on days off. The Great Barrier Reef is making a comeback. An HIV vaccine passed phase 1 of human trials. Rhino numbers in Kenya increased. Giant Pandas are no longer an endangered species. A vaccine for malaria is now approved and could start saving lives very soon. Pandora (the world’s largest jewelry maker) moved from mined diamonds to lab-created diamonds. The Ozone layer is on a path to full recovery by 2050. Ten countries in the world are now getting 97-100% of their energy from renewable sources. A blood test to detect depression and bipolar might be possible soon.

The world isn’t an entire ball of shit.

After two years of a pandemic (that’s ongoing, don’t forget) I actually feel…hopeful.

Nothing will ever be the same and there will always be evil, ignorant people to go to battle with, but each day is a step closer to a softer, kinder, more understanding world. That makes me hopeful. Annoyed by the struggle, but pleased with the tiny steps in the right direction.

I pray you all feel hopeful as well.

My thoughts go out to all of you who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. Those of you who lost jobs. Became disenchanted with the world due to many people showing their true colors. Many people showed how vile they are, for sure. However, remember that a lot of us rose to the challenge. Be inspired by the tremendous amount of gentle, quiet good, not by the loud evil.

That’s my hope for all of us moving forward. Ignore the noise and keep making our tiny little steps towards hope and change.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, 2022 is going to be a new era for Chase Connor Books and me. I’m leaving my Young Adult life behind and moving to…something different. I have to say “farewell” to that part of my writer life and explore and grow and…take what comes. That’s what I need as a writer and a human being to feel that I am fulfilled–because I need to try all I can try and be all I can be before my days are done. I’m hopeful about this journey, too.

I’m so excited to go on this journey with all of you, so I’m starting now.

This will be my last blog post for 2021. I’m going to take the last few weeks of the year to get my shit together and get ready for the next chapter. I was kind of inspired by The Lion Fish Press to take a few weeks to myself.

I’m going to cook and bake and spend time with my SAM and read and watch movies and listen to music and clean and clear my head. I hope all of you have a chance in the next few weeks to do the same.

Honestly, I have no clue what 2022 is going to look like for this blog. Or my writing life in general. I have a general feeling of what I want, and I’m excited to see it magically happen, but I will be as surprised as you all might be when the new year comes.

So…let’s start the next leg of our journey.

Come on…

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Welcome to the Secret Society

Do you want to hear a secret?

A deep, dark, shocking secret of mine?

I haven’t been totally honest about whether or not I do “public” events for the release of my books. It’s true–I’m a big fibber. Well, kind of…

Today on Chase Connor Books, I have a blog post for my fellow writers–especially those with a book they are nearly ready to start marketing and then publish. Before we begin, I would like to say that I haven’t kept these things to myself in order to keep “insider information” from my fellow authors and hoard information. These aren’t trade secrets or some secret look behind the curtain pulled around the publishing world. You won’t find The Great and Powerful Oz pulling levers in the text of this post.

No one taught me what I’m about to write in this post. I didn’t have to sign a contract in blood and drink some mysterious liquid from a silver chalice in a secret meeting to learn these things. Simply put, what I’m about to share are some tips I came up with to fit my specific needs as an author. Maybe this post will help you if you’re following a path similar to mine.

It’s no secret that I am about selling my books and not myself. I can be friendly and social (especially on social media), but for the most part, I love anonymity. I love having my real life and my author life separate. I’ve made it clear in the past that I don’t want fame and fortune…just fortune. I don’t need people to love me…I just need them to love my books. I don’t seek validation as a person through my work, though this is not to shade anyone who seeks fame or validation through being an author.

Having said that, before I get into my deep, dark secret, I do have tips for debut authors, especially indies and indie-hybrids with small budgets and limited time to market and promote their work and/or themselves.

A fellow author reached out to me recently to ask me for advice on book launches, so let me tell you all what I told him.

A book launch is not a book signing. It’s a debut. Venues can rarely be too small for launches. A packed small room is much more impressive and feels more exclusive than a large room with lots of empty space. You don’t want people packed in like sardines, but you don’t want them to look around and think: “Jeez. Half the people invited didn’t even bother to show up.”

Surprisingly, libraries are not incredibly conducive to book launches. They often don’t allow sales, they are incredibly restrictive, relatively pricey (you will spend at least $55 for one hour for a single room at the main branch of my local library), and let’s be honest–people want to have fun at book launches. Libraries are great for quickly finding and picking up books, but their meeting rooms are not great for letting your hair down, hearing about a book, and mingling. In my opinion, you don’t just want to give a talk and do a reading from your book, you want people to have fun. If they have an experience, they’ll relate it to your book, and attach those good feelings to your book. The worst thing that can happen (other than the attendees just not caring about your book), is having them listen to your talk/reading, buy a book, and leave. You want them to leave feeling that they were part of something special so that they relate that feeling to your book. 

Because of this, try:

1) Metaphysical bookstores and indie bookstores. Small business owners often love collaboration and inventive, low-cost ways to do more marketing. When you think about it, if you do your book launch party while they’re open in the evening and you provide everything, it costs them nothing but space. They’re also often excited to help other “little guys” and meet more people in the community, too. Make an appointment to go in and talk to the owners face to face, make them feel like they are part of the experience you are trying to create, and get them to realize that this might also help their business. Let them know you want them to attend as well (if they can), enjoy the talk/reading, have snacks, meet new people/customers, etc. The backdrop of a metaphysical bookstore and/or indie bookstore also provides conversation. Just make sure that even if they say “no,” that you thank them, compliment them on something specific about their store, wish them the best, and give them your contact information in case they “change their mind” or think of other collaborative ideas in the future that benefit you both. If you know of stores like this where you are already a patron, contact those stores first. It’s easier to come up with nice things to say about an owner and store if you already love going there. 


2) Private dining rooms in restaurants. Many will let you have the room for free if they will also be selling food and drinks. Just make sure to let them know you plan to give a talk and do a reading so things can be timed with servers coming in and out. This is relatively low cost to you–as long as you make it clear to attendees that food/drinks are not provided. These types of launches also have to be relatively small. Probably no more than 20-30 people. For a first-time indie, this might be perfect, though. Make the people you invite feel as though they’ve been handpicked to be part
of a party that has a limit for attendees (“an exclusive event with limited seating”). You could also talk to the restaurant about whether or not they can set up a specific menu (from their existing menu) for the attendees. A choice between two appetizers, two dinners, and two desserts, with the attendees choosing their own drinks. This will make it feel more special–even though these are things the restaurant would serve anyway. However, it makes serving your room easier on the restaurant staff, and you can get a price per person from the manager to provide to your attendees on their invitation. Bring wet wipes for people to use (if necessary) before you move on to the buying/signing at the end of the meal. Greasy fingers + books = tragedy. Make sure to bring a little gift for everyone to leave with, such as a branded bookmark or some small token of your appreciation for their attendance, even if they don’t purchase a book.


3) Ask your friends and family to host a series of book launch parties at their homes and serve snacks and drinks. Like Tupperware parties. Or you can do a “progressive dinner” and have all of the parties in one night. Drinks and appetizers at one house where you welcome everyone and talk about your book. At the next house, have dinner and you give a reading. At the final house, everyone can have dessert and coffee where everyone mingles more and can buy a book and get an autograph. You can even have your book table set up there and waiting. The chance anyone will get dirty fingers on the books is lower if you go this route, which is a bonus. You could even have someone throw a backyard barbecue when weather permits. We all have that one friend or family member who loves to throw a party. This may be limiting on the number of attendees as well (unless you know Bill Gates and other people who own huge houses), but it’s a great way to build a “secret society” and a memorable experience. Bring wet wipes!


4) Lastly, even before COVID, virtual book launches were becoming more popular. This allows any number of people to attend. You can do a Zoom or Discord launch. Talk about your book, do a reading, and direct attendees to where they can purchase your book online or order an autographed copy to be shipped out to them. You can also suggest certain snacks and/or drinks (a theme) for attendees to prepare for the meeting and people can share what they made and why and maybe share recipes at the end. It’s a fun way to get people involved in the meeting so they have a memorable experience. 

Now that I’ve provided those tips–not that they’re industry changing or anything–let me tell you about my “Secret Society.”

I live a pretty low-key and anonymous author life, hence the pen name (though, I’m not sure if that is obvious to everyone). I have thrown parties at my home before when I’ve released books. Attendees were close friends who like keeping secrets and will help promote my work outside of my usual writer/reader channels. It has always been nice because you know almost everyone will buy a book at the party (friend-guilt is awesome) and you know what types of behaviors to expect. Knowing you won’t get too many difficult questions about the book is another bonus. Also, it’s a more relaxed environment where I can be myself more than I am “Chase Connor.” It’s something I definitely recommend to indie authors if they are able. Get your friends involved, make them feel like they are part of a “secret society,” and have them talk your book up to others when they’re out and about (at work, libraries, bookstores, over dinners with friends, etc.). However, it’s incredibly important to make it clear that there is no pressure to bother other people about your book. Just make it clear that if someone mentions a book, work yours into the conversation if they’re able. Since the “meetings” still revolve around the book, I’d always serve non-messy foods that were crowd-pleasers and easy to eat. If a particular food is mentioned a lot in the book the party is for, serve that food in some form. There may have been a party at my house where donuts and coffee were served for dessert. I’ll let you all decide which book that involved. Of course, people have dietary restrictions (weight loss, sugar-free, halal, kosher, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.) so that’s something to keep in mind–become familiar with the eating habits/needs of the people you are serving. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with chips and dips or cheese and crackers, as long as you keep plenty of napkins ready. No Kraft Singles, please. Save that for depression grilled cheese. COVID has kept us from having any parties for a while, but hopefully, next year I can resume the “secret society” meetings. 

Now that you know my deep, dark secret…do with that what you will. Have you heard of Street Teams or Beta-Readers or the like? Why not start a “Secret Society?” An author can easily throw a party that fits their budget and needs. Have a book that takes place in Italy? Homemade bruschetta, bowls of salad, and huge platters of spaghetti or fettuccine can be made for a crowd on a shoestring budget. Think Olive Garden, but not so salty. Remember, the food has to be good, but it doesn’t have to be gourmet. What matters most is the experience. Engage your attendees, mingle, tell great stories and jokes, be the best version of yourself you can be, and have everyone leave feeling as though they were a special VIP invited to an exclusive, secretive event. It doesn’t hurt to have free bookmarks or other merch for attendees to take home. The party can be as big or as small as you like–but it can really get your book and your name out there. Give it some thought.

Mystery Novel – throw a murder mystery party! Ghost-y Paranormal novel? Bust out those Halloween decorations! Romance Novel? Chocolates, champagne, roses, and asks the guests to dress appropriately (take that as you will–you might get to see some of your hot friends shirtless)! The only limit is your imagination!

Oh, and if you’re having family around this holiday season, it doesn’t hurt to leave one of your books on the coffee table, dining room table, the guest room dresser, and in the guest crapper. Ya’ know, just in case reading material is needed.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

A New Adventure

This was supposed to be the blog post for November 16th. However, things happen. I didn’t want to use this blog post then because I felt it wasn’t ready. I hadn’t explained well what I wanted to say then. However, it’s a brand new blog post day and, hopefully, I finally got everything “right.”

I’ve kind of hinted at what I’m writing about today in this blog post, but I felt that I needed to expound on my feelings. Addressing the future of Chase Connor Books is also important to me. The reason for this is that I have been blessed to have “met” many wonderful readers–many of whom have been with me since my first published book. I feel like we’ve been on a journey together for the last 3.5 years. We’re like family now. I feel that if I plan to make a change in my writing life, I want them to know about it.

Young Adult changed my life. When I published JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE in June of 2018 (my first published book), I had no idea what I was doing or who I was as a writer. I just had stories and a dream. Fortunately, those stories and my dream are doing okay. That book (and its two eventual sequels) made me who I am today.

GAVIN’S BIG GAY CHECKLIST, A SURPLUS OF LIGHT, GINJUH, THE GUY GETS TEDDY, WHEN WORDS GROW FANGS, A MILLION LITTLE SOULS…they’re all stories I am incredibly proud of and I’m glad that I wrote and published them. I have no regrets.

SENDING LOVE LETTERS TO ANIMALS AND OTHER TOTALLY NORMAL HUMAN BEHAVIORS will be released on December 3rd, 2021. I’m incredibly proud of it, too. As its writer, I feel it’s a great story, has great characters, a solid plot, it’s fun, it has a wonderful message, and many people will love it. If you have any interest in YA, it will be perfect for you.

It will be my last Young Adult novel for a while. Maybe forever.

Well, let me expound even further.

I don’t plan to write romantic LGBTQ+ Young Adult novels, coming-of-age, or anything like that anytime soon. Writing stories with the focus being solely on coming-of-age, coming out, finding teenage love…it’s not where I am as a writer–or a person–anymore.

I will turn 30 next year. I’ve learned a lot as a writer.

Both personally and professionally, I’m interested in New Adult, Adult, Lit Fic, Contemporary, and paranormal/fantasy stories more. I’m even finding that I enjoy writing erotic/romance more. Writing for teenagers is not where my heart is any longer. Don’t get me wrong–I know that a lot of my audience is comprised of adults and even senior people. Older queer people have been so good to me. I love all of the messages I’ve gotten from older members of the LGBTQIA community about how my stories meant something to them because my stories are how they wish their lives had been growing up. There aren’t words for the weight I give those sentiments.

To know that I’ve written anything that helped an LGBTQIA person feel that being an LGBTQIA teen doesn’t have to be the traumatic experience they had makes me very happy. I am nothing short of honored and humbled.

Honestly, I struggle a lot with whether or not I deserve to be in the company of these people. While my youth wasn’t without struggle, knowing that it was so much easier for me, standing on the shoulders of those who came before me, I feel unworthy of writing something that represents our collective experience. However, I feel that I am a better and more worldly person having “met” many of these older members of our community. Even the ones I only know through their social media or emails have given me pieces of them I will carry with me forever. I am truly honored.

So…I do not regret writing Young Adult. I will never regret writing it. I love my YA stories and will always be proud of the time I spent writing them. However, getting back to JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE–I wrote that story (by hand) when I was in my mid-teens, confused, with a world of worries on my shoulders, and the belief that I would never be happy or find love. I just wanted to daydream about finding my happily ever after. I published it when I was 26 years old. I’m turning 30 in 4 months. I’m married. I’m so happy.

It’s not difficult to understand that I am a much different person now, yes?

I want to write things that, even if they have teen characters in them, are more “adult.” Or, at least, appeal to a wider age range of readers. I don’t want to focus on first love or any of that as much–or, at least, not make it the central focus of the story. I don’t want to write about high school experiences. I want to write about universal human experiences (but still with LGBTQIA characters–I will never abandon centering my stories in the LGBTQIA experience). I want to write more plot-driven books–or at least books where the plot and the characters are on an even playing field. I want to write more prose. I want to challenge myself. To stretch my legs (or fingers–I am a writer, after all) and see how tall I can stand.

In the future, my hope is that I will write more things like BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE, JACOB MICHAELS IS…, THE GRAVITY OF NOTHING, A SURPLUS OF LIGHT, and even BRIEFLY BUDDIES. I have books written and planned for publication that have teenage main characters but are not standard YA offerings.

If that makes any sense whatsoever.

I think I’m at my best when I write things like BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE, A SURPLUS OF LIGHT, A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF NORMAL, writing about the complexities of life and the human experience, or just allow myself to come up with the most fantastical stories possible. Writing within YA has become limiting for me. That’s not the genre’s fault–it’s a wonderful genre–it just does not serve me anymore. And I do not want to do the disservice of continuing to write YA stories if I feel that my heart is not in it.

And, in listening to my readers, I think they’re ready to grow with me. They want more of the types of stories I’m referencing here. They want more A SURPLUS OF LIGHT. HA! They want to say: “this is the same writer who wrote Just a Dumb Surfer Dude???”

Painfully, this has led me to make the difficult decision to talk to my publisher and scrap two projects I had planned for the future. I AM NOT BEAU BREWSTER and VISITING MUSEUMS WITH PETRUCHIO were two traditional YA novels I had written and had ready to publish sometime in the future. We’ve decided to shelve those novels. Fortunately, my publisher has been supportive of my decision. They’re enthusiastic to see me grow and challenge myself.

Now, this is a scary step for me. The more “adult” novels I’ve mentioned have done well. SURPLUS, ENZO, and NORMAL have been my best-reviewed books so far. But let’s not ignore the obvious–Young Adult has been my bread and butter for 3.5 years. Okay, at least the bread. Leaving it behind might change everything for me as a writer. Maybe I am shooting myself in the foot?

But what is life without risk and trying things that scare you? It’s a life half-lived. I can’t half-live. I can’t write that which does not excite me and about which I am not passionate. I can’t be a good writer if I don’t stretch.

In summation, don’t expect me to remove teens from my books or ignore the teen experience. No age range is safe from me! What I’m saying is…expect more prose. Expect deeper emotions and plot-heavy books, complex human experiences, examining the human experience even when it’s difficult and there’s no black or white moral ground. Expect some spice from time to time. Not everything will be centered around romance and finding first love. Love is all you need…unless you’re an author trying to write a compelling story.

So…if you’re one of my readers, and you’ve been on this journey with me, I hope you are ready for the next leg of the journey. I promise it will be exciting. We’ll have a lot of fun. Plenty of great characters will be joining us and we’ll join them on their journies. This move might cause me to lose a huge chunk of my readers, but I hope not. I’ve come to love and respect so many of you over these last few years. I would miss you if you left the cult. Anyway…you’re more than welcome to stick around. I hope that you do.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Organization

One thing that I get asked a lot (surprisingly, by readers more than writers) is:

How do you keep all of your thoughts and stories organized when you have so many?

Now, I’m not sure if these people mean to ask what it’s like inside of my head? Loud. It’s loud.

Or maybe they are asking how I keep my notes, outlines, plots, characters, and actual materials to write my stories separate and distinct on my laptop/computer so that I don’t get confused?

Well, since I’ve already explained the inside of my head in 3 words or less, let me use a lot more to explain my laptop/computer.

In fact, I won’t just use my words…I’ll use pictures!

This picture is of the files in my main writing folder. This separates my major series from all of my other LGBTQ+ books (YA, NA, Lit Fic, Fantasy, MG, etc.). I don’t have separate folders by genre because even I am not that crazy. Just separating major series from everything else is a good start in organization for me.

Many of you might have questions about that first folder. Well, that’s not what this post is about. Sorries. You are all familiar with (or know of) the A Point Worth LGBTQ Paranormal Romance (Jacob Michaels Is…) series, and I’ve announced the Thatcher Graves series on Twitter already. These folders hold all of the books for those series, just as the LGBTQ Books folder has folders for each of my other works.

The Word document for Back Matter and Front Matter are the files that hold the material that goes at the front of each book and the back of each book. This makes it easy to copy and paste into any new work. The Book Synopses folder holds general synopses for each of my books–I write these when I think of a book idea/plot so that I don’t forget. Lastly, Passages to Use are little snippets of writing (maybe even just a sentence long) that came to mind and I had to type out before I forgot what I had in mind. These are passages that don’t fit into whatever manuscript I’m currently working on, so I save them for a future book.

This picture is the inside of the LGBTQ Books folder. As you can tell, these are folders that hold all of my books that have not been released, along with a folder that holds works that are completed and published (Completed TLFP). This helps me to separate things that I’m currently working on and things that I am not currently working on. Well, some of these books I’m not really working on much anymore because they’re basically done, but they’re not published, so they stay in this folder.

Simple enough, right?

Let’s take a look inside an actual book folder. This is the inside of the folder for SENDING LOVE LETTERS TO ANIMALS AND OTHER TOTALLY NORMAL HUMAN BEHAVIORS (available for pre-order now!).

Inside the folder, I have several subfolders. I have a folder that contains all of the Chapter Header artwork, the files that will go into publishing the ebook, hardback, and paperbacks. I have a folder that holds miscellaneous book art, and “other files.” “Other Files” is generally weird shit that I used when outlining or plotting that doesn’t really have a use anymore.

This makes it easy for me to locate a specific file that I need for a book I’m currently working on. Granted, some of these files, are just the source files from other people’s work, but I still have them in case. For example, I did not design the cover(s) for SENDING LOVE LETTERS TO ANIMALS… but the person who did the covers sent me the files to save. It’s always good to have copies of the source files for your covers if you can manage it, my fellow authors.

This all probably seems anti-climactic now that you’ve seen the innards of my computer files, but this is how I organize my book(s) files. Hopefully, it will give you some ideas!

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

F.A.Q.

Today on Chase Connor Books, I thought I’d give myself a break from trying to think of unique and exciting topics to write blog posts over. Instead, I thought I’d answer my most frequently asked questions as an author.

On Twitter, on the website here, Goodreads, DMs, and emails, I respond almost every time to any question a reader or fellow author poses. As long as I have a helpful answer and I feel knowledgeable enough to give a decent answer–and it’s not too personal. However, not all questions get asked in the same forums–or even publicly–so some readers and peers might miss those conversations.

Why not compile them here? Readers will get some answers they want and my peers will get my take on certain aspects of the publishing world.

Let’s do this!

Q: When did you start writing?

A: I started writing when I was very young–13/14ish–and wrote my first novel at age 17/18. I can’t remember if I had turned 18 before I finished the first draft.

Q: Why did you decide to self-publish when you started out?

A: After researching all of the options out there, it seemed best for me. A bad experience with an agent and a publisher were the final nails in the coffin. Self-publishing fits my needs, desires, and sensibilities best.

Q: How are you so prolific? You started publishing 3.5 years ago and you’ve released 20+ books!

A: I wrote my first novel at 17 years old. I didn’t publish it until 9 years later. In those 9 years, I’d written the first draft of a dozen other novels. When I started publishing, I had a TON of work to draw from and develop. That’s how I was “ahead of the game” when I started. Additionally, I now do this for a living, so I can devote my entire workday to being in front of the keyboard. I also have no kids and my partner respects my workday, so I have no distractions other than what life will throw at a person from time to time.

Q: Which is your favorite book that you’ve written?

A: I hate this question just so we’re clear. LOL This is a Sophie’s Choice situation. I love all of my books for different, unique reasons. I’m proud of my first book because it was first. I’m proud of another book due to its message. I’m proud of another book because I feel my prose was *chef’s kiss*. Also, I hate choosing because I don’t want readers to think any of my books are not worth reading–I think they’re all entertaining at the least. However…if forced to choose…a book I have coming out in 2022, POSSIBLY TEXAS is one that I am particularly proud of at the moment. I can’t wait to share it with the world. I think 2022 is the year I show people what kind of author I can really be. This all sounds very egotistical, and I’m sorry, but I feel like I’m really starting to hit my stride as a writer–really discovering who I am as a writer. I think 2022 and beyond will really show that.

Q: Which of your characters is your favorite?

A: See the above answer for the requisite disclaimer. I can’t choose just one as my absolute favorite. However, recently, Davud from SENDING LOVE LETTERS TO ANIMALS AND OTHER TOTALLY NORMAL HUMAN BEHAVIORS (coming December 3rd, 2021) was a character I really enjoyed writing.

Q: Do you consider yourself an LGBTQ+ author or just an author?

A: I am an LGBTQ+ author. I am comfortable being referred to as Gay or Queer. Also, there are demisexual sprinkles on top if anyone cares (that falls under the “A” in LGBTQIA). Even if I write a book one day where the main character is not one of the letters, I am still an LGBTQ+ author. I’m not going to bristle at being labeled as such. However, I do hate that books need to be labeled as LGBTQ+ if they are not erotica or educational about LGBTQ+ issues/history. It seems like low-key censorship and high-key pearl clutching.

Q: What’s the best thing about being an indie author/small imprint author?

A: The community, sense of freedom, and unhampered creativity. The possibilities are only limited by your creativity, talent, hard work, and networking/marketing skills (with a nice dash of luck).

Q: What’s the worst thing about being an indie author/small imprint author?

A: There seems to be more competition and infighting in the indie world. A lot of people want to undermine other writers’ confidence. There is a lot of rudeness disguised as helpfulness or critique. There is still a big stigma about being indie because obviously, “you aren’t good enough for traditional publishing.” There are also baseless beliefs that no indie author can write as well as a traditionally published author. The lack of understanding of what goes on in the trad pub world and what happens in the indie world is mind-boggling at times. Everyone knows better than you. It gets frustrating sometimes.

Q: What advice would you give to new/unpublished writers?

A: Learn who you should take advice from.

Q: My spouse/partner/parents/friends won’t read my manuscript/book! Do you think that’s unsupportive?

A: Support comes in many forms. For example, my partner does read my books. If he didn’t want to, he’s still so supportive in so many other ways. He encourages me and is my biggest cheerleader. He tells me how proud he is of me. He gives me his love and respect. It would be fine with me if he didn’t want to read my work. However, if these people in your life don’t read your work AND they treat your dreams and goals and YOU with disrespect–that is something you need to think about at length.

Q: Do you like it when readers tag you in reviews?

A: I don’t read reviews anymore. Having said that, I don’t care if I’m tagged. I have an unspoken deal with my readers. You can write honest reviews and I won’t get mad at you if they are less than 5-stars, and I won’t read your reviews and you won’t get mad at me for letting you do you. LOL These are just my thoughts and feelings. I would advise readers/reviewers that you don’t know what type of day someone is having. Maybe they lost a loved one or pet. Maybe they woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Or they’re dealing with mental health or general health issues. Maybe they just don’t have great confidence or aren’t good with handling critique. Think really hard before you tag them in a scathing 1-star review. Today might not be the day to kick them in the teeth, ya’ know? However, if they’re like me, they wouldn’t know anyway. LOL

Q: Will you ever do signings or podcast/video interviews? Why are you so private?

A: Maybe in the future I will do signings, readings, or interviews (though, fair warning, I am not a great interview–I go off-topic A LOT). I’d certainly never say “never.” I’m private because I am selling my stories, not myself. I’m not a rare, luxurious commodity, but at the end of the day, I’m all I have that’s truly mine.

Q: Do you still enjoy writing? Do you ever get tired of it?

A: There are days when making the words move from my brain to the screen is arduous. Some days aren’t as easy as others. That’s any job, yes? However, I am still deeply entrenched in my love affair with the written word.

Q: Which of your books should I start with? There are SOOOOOOOOO many!

A: LOL! I get this one A LOT. Totally understandable. A SURPLUS OF LIGHT and BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE seem to be readers’ favorites, followed closely by JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE TRILOGY and A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF NORMAL. You can find all of my books listed here by genre.

Q: If you could choose one of your books to be made into a movie or T.V. show, which would you choose?

A: Hands down, A SURPLUS OF LIGHT. I think with the right screenwriter and director, it would make a great LGBTQIA coming-of-age movie. I have a book, THATCHER GRAVES AND THE DEMON’S CURSE, coming out next year. It’s the first in a planned series. It’d be a good Netflix or Amazon Prime series. JACOB MICHAELS IS… would be great, too. But I guess I can only choose one, so SURPLUS is the one.

I suppose that’s it for now. I’ll save other questions for another day when I’m feeling lazy and uncreative.

My next book, an LGBTQIA YA novel–SENDING LOVE LETTERS TO ANIMALS AND OTHER TOTALLY NORMAL HUMAN BEHAVIORS–comes out December 3rd, 2021. You can find it by clicking on that link and you can read more about it here.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

The Rulebook

Today on Chase Connor Books, I felt that it was time to announce a hill I’m willing to die on. Buckle up, my friends!

Readers probably won’t be as bothered by this as my fellow writers might be…

Grammar, spelling, structure, tense-agreement…there are a lot of ways to make mistakes when writing a story. When it comes to writing, especially in English, there are so many grammar rules that a person can easily mess up without even realizing it. With practice, patience, and education, a writer becomes better at following all of the rules, but in the end, we’re all still humans. We’re probably going to make mistakes no matter how well we write. It’s just a fact of life.

I imagine Joyce Carol Oates sitting at her desk and muttering: “Fuck me.” quite often.

These rules are in place to make the messaging clear, to convey information accurately and concisely, and to help with readability. Rules are good. We should all learn The Rules and follow them as often as is needed in our writing. As far as I’ve seen, there aren’t many writing rules to get angry about. Some rules seem arbitrary–and, admittedly, some are a bit outdated–but they’ve all served a purpose at some point in their existence.

I can think of at least a handful of English writing rules that seem unnecessary and/or outdated and their stringent followers can be quite pedantic. A misused semicolon will have them declaring a book is utterly unreadable. That is neither here nor there.

The Rules are there for a reason–to make people better writers and conveyers of information–and it’s good to learn them to the best of one’s ability. For me, that is not up for dispute. The Rules are simply good.

Now…here’s where I declare that I will gladly die on a hill.

Rules are meant to be broken. Even proper grammar rules. Rules have their place, but when it comes to creative writing and storytelling, sometimes the rules do not apply.

If a college student is writing a dissertation or a thesis, the rules should absolutely be followed to the letter. When writing a work email, the rules should be followed for professionalism. If you are writing a note or letter to someone you are not well-acquainted with, it is best to fall back on following the rules out of respect and for the sake of clarity. At least until you are more familiar with the person and know their communication style.

Creative writing is another ball of wax.

Novels are not always written in a formal structure. The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Push by Sapphire, and Moonrise by Sarah Crossan come to mind immediately. Their structure does not conform to The Rules. The authors–though educated and aware of The Rules–chose to tell a story in a creative way that best honored the story. When a rule needed to be broken, they broke it.

Often, in first person POV, the reader is reading the story in the main character(s) voice. People often do not speak and convey information by The Rules. Some people do, but for the most part, people speak in a way that fits their personality, not the criteria established by the Grammar Police. If a writer wants to immerse a reader in the first person POV and make them feel like they are looking through the main character’s eyes, they may choose to write the story the way the character would tell it verbally. Mistakes and all.

That doesn’t make the author wrong or their story lesser than other stories written 100% by The Rules. It’s simply creative writing. It’s artistic.

Even if a writer wishes to follow The Rules, stories often contain some amount of dialogue. Even a writer who stringently follows The Rules might break a few when writing dialogue because they want a character’s personality to shine through. Books don’t have all of the devices of, say, a T.V. show or movie, to convey the nuance of characters’ personalities, so writers often have to get creative to make a story shine and connect with readers.

For example, when I write blog posts, I try to write them in my voice. Because we’re connecting as author and reader, and hopefully, in a friendly, informal way. I follow the rules (mostly) where appropriate, but I want readers to feel like they are getting to know me.

Not every story can be told by The Rules and have the impact that is intended.

To me, creativity is hampered when a writer becomes overly concerned with whether or not they will look stupid for not following The Rules. This way of thinking can be limiting and stifling. Following The Rules 100% of the time can take a great story and make it an “okay” story.

Writers should feel free to break all of the rules when writing their story because they can always go back and fix things if their creative way of writing just didn’t work for whatever reason. Creativity is the most important aspect of writing a story. Yes, readability, grammar, structure–all of those things are important–but if a reader is not entertained and inspired, is it a great story?

I don’t think that it is.

That’s just my opinion.

Writing rules have changed and evolved since the dawn of written language. Who’s to say that the rule you chose to break today won’t become common and accepted one-hundred years from now? That’s how the evolution of written language occurs–by adapting to the needs and desires of the people who use it.

So, learn The Rules. Abide by them as necessary for clarity, readability, and respect for the language in which you are writing. Do your best to know those rules inside and out. That way, when it’s time to break them, you know how to do it so perfectly that the Grammar Police don’t even know what to say to you.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase