Trying On Hats

Do you know what my favorite thing about being a human being is?

Wait…is that something an alien would say to try and blend in with human beings? “Hi. I am Chase. How are all of my fellow multicellular organisms doing today?”

Not to get off topic, but that is exactly what an alien would say to blend in so that the government wouldn’t find out that they were infiltrating humanity. Also, I have been accused of sounding robotic due to my ineptitude with contractions when speaking or conversing online, and my love of lists. I also am an Oxford comma enthusiast…so…maybe I am an alien? Please don’t tell the government.

Regardless, my favorite thing about being a human being (and not an alien–promise) is that we are in charge of who we are from one day to the next. Sometimes, I find that I wasn’t as kind as I wanted to be, or as social and outgoing as I would like, or I was too lazy one day, or not as hard-working, or standoffish, or patient, or…a million things that make me unhappy with myself.

But that’s okay. There is always tomorrow. I can change or improve behaviors or try harder to be the version of myself that I really want to be. Honestly, who I am deep down is a gay guy who likes to be lazy with his boyfriend, spend time with his dog, and read books. I’m not overly complicated, nor do I have many needs or desires. I’m perfectly happy being that guy. Generally speaking, I think I am a pretty decent guy who is just trying to “get his grind on,” have a good romantic life, write books (that people enjoy, hopefully), and not cause harm to others. So far…so good?

Now, do you know what my favorite thing about being a writer is?

It’s the same thing. One of the best things about being a writer is that we all get to “try on hats” every time we write a story and create new characters. Do you not want to be a sociopath in real life? Write a character who is a sociopath so that you can have fun pretending that you are the thing you’d hate to be in real life. Do you not like your hair, your eye color, your height, your size, or something else about your physical appearance? Write a character who looks the way you wish that you did.

Not only does “trying on hats” allow a writer to live out a fantasy about being someone different (at least in their head), it builds empathy and compassion for people who are different than we are in real life. This is why I get a little frustrated with gatekeepers. Whenever I write a character who is a different from myself, I research and then ask questions of people who are like my characters. What I learn from this research and speaking to people different than myself–or what is reinforced, actually–is that we are all deserving of love, kindness, respect, and dignity. It helps me grow as a human being. And we all know I love being a human being, right?

Needless to say, I feel that a writer should not be afraid to write characters unlike themselves. Yes, you might mess up and upset people…but there will always be a person who is unhappy with your writing, so why not do something that will make you a better person and writer, right? Besides…it’s fun being a different person from time to time. Even if it’s only in your head.

P.S. If you don’t like your physical appearance, and that is why you write a character the way that you write them, DM me on Twitter. I will tell you how beautiful you are.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,
Chase

Give ‘Em What They Want

Recently, I was asked by a writer friend my thoughts on writing what I want versus writing what the reader wants. As a writer, of course, we all want to be paid to write whatever it is that we want, but we also need to make money. So, this can become an epic mental struggle for all of us. It is also difficult for readers because I feel that they want to read the story the way that the writer imagined it. But they also get invested in the story and characters and have an idea of how they want it to go.

What is a writer to do?

For me, the answer to this question has always been that a writer can have the best of both worlds. A writer can come up with a concept for a story and still give the reader what they want. These things are not mutually exclusive. Don’t get me wrong–sometimes, no matter what you do, you just won’t please a person reading your work. There will always be someone who does not enjoy a story (or several) that you have written.

When I conceive of a story idea, characters, outline the plot…all I care about is telling the story in a way that is concise, interesting, engaging, and (hopefully) hits all of the appropriate emotions for the reader. I want a reader to sit down and just be entertained. I think if a writer can do that, then the rest takes care of itself. You don’t have to write a specific genre or characters or tell a certain type of story to make readers happy.

Readers just want to feel engaged and not cheated. If it can also make them think, create dialogue, represent marginalized peoples, include unique story elements…all the better. A reader wants to try a writer’s work and walk away thinking: “I can read any of this author’s work and feel like it was worth my time.”

So, to answer this question, I would have to say that when a writer comes up with a story idea, they have a few tasks they need to complete before they write.

How can I make this story engaging?

How can I make this story as concise and crisp as possible?

What core emotions am I trying to convey with the theme of this story? How do I best convey this?

What do I want the writer to feel when they close the book?

What is absolutely necessary to include so that this story is told and what should I leave out so that it does not slow down the story?

If a writer can figure these things out, they will find readers who want to read their story. Granted, no matter how gifted you are as a storyteller, no matter how well you write technically, you may never find an audience. If a writer focuses more on how to tell the best story with the concept that they are passionate about, the rest seems to fall into place. Eventually.

Tremendous Love & Thanks

Chase

Opinions Differ

One thing I always find interesting about creating characters and telling stories is how perception of those characters varies greatly between my mind and the readers’ minds.

When it comes to writing characters, I tend to be fairly vague. I like to give just enough information so that readers can get a general idea of how I think the characters look–but not so much that the reader’s imagination is rendered useless. I think readers appreciate that, but sometimes, I think some readers want every little detail they can get. I love both types of readers and understand both ways of thinking. However, I’ll probably continue to be pretty vague about my characters’ appearances.

One character in particular that I recently found out a lot of readers have opinions about is “Oma/Esther Jean Wagner” from the ‘Jacob Michaels Is‘ series.

Fun Fact: “Oma” is not her name. “Oma” means “grandma/grandmother” in German. Her name is “Esther Jean Wagner,” just in case anyone was confused.

Some readers saw her as a more wiry “Daisy May ‘Granny’ Moses,” while others saw her as more of a rotund, fun-to-hug older woman. My personal idea of what she looks like falls somewhere between. I always felt that maybe age had caused her to put on a few pounds (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that) but was still feisty and managed physical tasks better than well for a nearly seventy-year-old person.

Some readers thought she wore glasses. Some thought she had a particular color of hair. There were a lot of ideas about Oma. I’m honestly not too surprised–besides “Ian” from ‘A Surplus of Light,’ she is probably the biggest fan favorite character of mine. And for good reason! Who doesn’t love a foul-mouthed older woman who will tell you the truth whether or not you want to hear it…but also give you a hug and a hearty meal when she’s done? Oma is probably my favorite character to write. Her interactions with Rob/Jacob make me smile. I would write a whole book of dialogue between the two of them if I thought it would work as a story. Also, in ‘Jacob Michaels Is Tired,’ her interaction with Mr. Jackson Barkley at Barkley’s Hardware was one of my favorites to write and reread (though I only reread my own work as much as necessary, so I’m not a good judge).

So, I want readers to know that my idea of what a character looks like will probably not be the same as what you think that they look like. And that’s okay. I don’t mind at all. I want readers to see what they want when they read my books–make the story even more meaningful to themselves. I just hope that you enjoy them and you are entertained.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Sneak Peek

Hi, all of my reader-friends! It’s Tuesday, and as I (kind of) promised on Friday, I wanted to give everyone a sneak peek into ‘Jacob Michaels Is Not Here (A Point Worth LGBTQ Paranormal Romance – Book 4).’

If you haven’t read any of the ‘Jacob Michaels Is…” books yet (there are 3 so far), you can read about them here. The series begins with Robert Wagner (a.k.a. ‘Jacob Michaels’) going back home to visit his grandmother/Oma in Ohio after a decade being an international A-List celebrity. He’s worn out, tired, underweight, lonely, and needs the love and attention that only family can provide. But, when he gets home…strange things start to happen. Home isn’t the way he remembers it. Then again, can he trust his own memory? A foul-mouthed grandmother, sexy love interests, paranormal happenings, and lots of humor are what you will discover if you jump into the world of ‘Jacob Michaels Is.’

These are the newly redesigned covers by Dean Cole (@DeanColeWriter) for the first 3 books–just in case you need to be enticed.

However, why don’t I show you the first few lines from the 4th book?

High heels with red soles were rare in places like Point Worth, Ohio. I only knew one person in the entire town who owned a pair of Louboutin heels, and that was because I had gifted them to her. The dead body laid out in the street was wearing a pair of Louboutin heels, and I knew without looking too closely that they were on the feet of the person for whom I had purchased them. Point Worth was on fire. Well, maybe not in a ‘Sir Thomas Bloodworth was indecisive after a baker’s house went ablaze’ way, but fires were scattered throughout the town. It was the only light to illuminate Main Street as I stood there, my eyes lingering on the red soles of those shoes.

For those of you who have actually read the first 3 books…are you wondering how we got here? How did book 3 end the way it did and now we open to this scene?

***SPOILER ALERT*** (ignore the red writing if you have not read the first 3 books)

At the end of book 3, Rob fell into the well in Oma’s basement, though she pleaded with him to just go back up to bed and cuddle up with Lucas. The book ended with him falling into the ominous green light, arms spread wide, accepting whatever was to come. Now book 4 opens with him seeing a pair of Louboutins on a dead body on Main Street in Point Worth. Hmmmm. Interesting, yes?

Well, we all know I’m not going to explain. I’m a tease and this is just a “sneak peek,” right? As of right now, I don’t have a pre-order or release date set for book 4, so this truly is me being a “tease.” However, book 4 is high on my list of priorities–so don’t you worry! I hope all of my current readers are excited and ready to pre-order and anyone who wasn’t sure about trying the series will come on board!

FYI – I’ve noticed that some people may be confused about this series. Book 4 will not be the last book. Right now, I have more books planned (though, I refuse to say how many!), so you will be able to keep visiting Point Worth, Rob, Lucas, and Oma for a while to come!

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

But Ya’ Gotta Have Friends

One thing that has always stood out to me, even before I signed up for Twitter and joined the #WritingCommunity, was that being a writer is never as lonely as people like to say it is. Not to say that anyone is trying to stir up drama by saying, “being a writer is sooooo lonely,” or they are looking for sympathy. They’re speaking to the fact that all of us spend countless hours, day in and day out, burning the midnight oil, waking up hours earlier than others, secluding ourselves with the voices (characters) in our heads. We spend a lot of time not being with other real, living human beings. So, in that way, it can seem lonely. Writing, in and of itself, is not a social activity. You can’t really write dialogue and have one of your own in real time, can you?

However, there are so many communities available for writers. The Writing Community on Twitter is exceptional (depending upon how you view it and use it) and can provide a lot of support, education, and camaraderie. I’ve “met” so many wonderful people who make me feel super awesome that I write. Sometimes we talk about our projects, writing, our WIPs (work in progress)…and other times we have full conversations utilizing only highly inappropriate and sexually charged .gifs. It’s fun. It’s like Tinder, except no one is actually trying to get laid (in fact, a lot of us are asexual, demisexual–or just too tired to even consider it). It’s a very safe place and a lot of fun–belly laughs every minute.

That is the other thing about writing communities–unlike some other groups, they are (usually) an extremely welcoming group to all genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, religions, and so forth. We have LGBTQ+ folks, male, female, agender, gender queer, gender nonconforming, black, white, brown…we only care if you are friendly, kind, helpful, and want to write. Arbitrary characteristics do not matter. It’s very inspiring. I love that group of amazing weirdos with all of my heart and hope that they know that.

When it comes to my friends (especially my IRL friends), I don’t often mention them in dedications or here on the website. Mostly because they do not demand or require that I do so–in fact, many of them do not want recognition, just friendship. I have so many wonderful friends who help me learn to write better, teach me tricks, do work for me (shout out to the piece of shit who maintains this site and uploads my blog posts–and makes them more readable–for me because I am hopeless), beta read, on and on and on. Friends point out things like “work on using more contractions” or “maybe educate yourself on passive versus active voice” or “have you thought about such-and-such?” I love them. Especially since, if I say, “Fuck you, I do what I want!” they don’t take it personally. Which is another reason I don’t mention them by name much–I don’t want people to think my mess ups are their mess ups. Recently, a friend uploaded work for me and did a bunch of formatting so I could use the weekend to have an actual personal life. I am so grateful!

I’m going to create a page (okay, okay, my website guy is going to create a page) called “LGBTCrew” full of suggestions of people you should follow on Twitter if you are thinking about joining the #WritingCommunity, so, just look in the header for that link!

One person I do want to mention today is Dean Cole (@DeanColeWriter), an integral member of the #WritingCommunity. First and foremost, he is the sweetest guy (and I want to hump him, obviously), but he also did some work redesigning the covers for my “Jacob Michaels Is…” series (also known as ‘A Point Worth LGBTQ Paranormal Romance’ series). You can read about that series here. The covers are just amazing and will, I think, elevate the series and make it more visually appealing to current readers, future readers, and potential readers.

So…let’s do a cover reveal and title for the fourth book in the series, shall we?

Ready?

Sweet, right? Dean Cole is amazingly talented! I’m so glad we partnered up to redesign the covers. I never hated my covers for the series, but I knew that having a professional design them would be so much better–and Dean was just the pro to do it. I’ll be forever grateful he slid into my DMs–sexy British guy that he is! You’ll also see the new covers for books 1-3 appearing on Amazon soon!

So…if you are looking to have a cover designed, maybe reach out to Dean. He’s easy to talk to, doesn’t take suggestions or rejections personally, and LISTENS. At the very least, maybe you’ll become friends on Twitter? Just like all of my other friends, I’m so glad to have “met” him and gotten to know him. He’s a great guy and obviously crazy talented. Also, he wrote an amazingly fun, funny, and heart-warming M/M Romantic Comedy called ‘His Boy’ that you have to check out. You can find it here:

You won’t regret it! You can read my whole Goodreads review here.

I know, I know. This is the second post for this week and I promised I would only do one a week. I’m a liar. Please accept my heartfelt apologies. Next week will be a regular Tuesday post. It may or may not be a sneak peek into ‘Jacob Michaels Is Not Jacob Michaels.’ I guess we’ll all see on Tuesday, right?

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase