Surprise, surprise. Grosse surprise! This week, I’m taking it easy with the blog post once again! While I have some blog posts planned for the future that might actually be of interest to other writers (and maybe even readers), today I’m presenting a post for readers of my work.
A question I get asked a lot in emails and DMs is:
“Which part(s) of <insert book title> is/are you favorite(s)?”
Today, I thought I’d post some of my favorite passages from some of my work. Now that I think about it, this might be useful to other writers. It might give others bravery to be their own biggest cheerleader and be proud of their work as well?
One can hope, anyway...
Regardless, the following are some of my favorite parts of some of my books. Passages I’m particularly proud of, scenes that were fun to write, or scenes I just think I would enjoy if I was the reader instead of the writer.
Hopefully, (even if you haven’t read these books) you’ll enjoy these as well!
This piece of advice was given to me by my mother a long time ago. You don’t say: “It’s okay.” when someone apologizes. You forgive them*. It lets them know that your forgiveness is required when they do wrong by you. I finally used it in a book. It’s very simple advice, but it is profound in how obvious it should be.
*Or you tell them to go fuck themselves. Up to you.
Almost everything about this book brings me joy. From how quickly I conceived the plot to how the words just seemed to flow each time I sat down to write…I haven’t read this one since it was first published in 2018. I don’t need to–I remember writing it like it was yesterday. I miss these guys.
I don’t talk about this book much – for obvious reasons – but this passage is one that feels truest to me.
Ginjuh’s/Zach’s relationship with his grandfather was one of my favorite relationships to write in any of my books. We could all use a grandpa like Mr. Ernest Pelton.
This week, I’m taking the lazy way out again. Instead of writing a blog post about writing, I’m going to lick my own butthole and just talk about my own work without really giving you, the reader, any actually useful information. It might entertain you, but I doubt it will enrich your life in any way.
You’re welcome? :::laughing/crying face emoji:::
So, as most authors will tell you, there are little facts and pieces of trivia about all of their books that fans of the work might appreciate knowing. It’s like a behind the scenes glimpse of a piece of media they enjoyed. Today, I’m presenting some of the subjectively interesting things about my books that I’ve never told anyone–other than those closest to me in real life.
Some of these facts no one, besides myself, might know.
I outlined this entire book – A MILLION LITTLE SOULS – in one night, sitting on the floor at the back of my bedroom closet, a notepad propped up on my knee.
When Will talks about his love of pumpernickel bread, that’s a little “Chase Connor” creeping into his characters.
Enzo is, traditionally, an Italian boys’ name. However, it has become increasingly popular in France (and other) countries.
Unsurprisingly, I ate A LOT of donuts while reading this book.
The restaurant, The Lazy Duck, mentioned in the book, does not exist in Montreal.
BULLY originally had the title SLAVE TO A BARELY LEGAL BULLY (THE GAY BULLY TRIALS) and was written as a “serial” for an erotica story website. When I decided to cut ties with that site, I moved the individual sections to Amazon, and then eventually wrote a conclusion chapter and turned them all into the novel you know today as BULLY.
GAVIN’S BIG GAY CHECKLIST was my grand homage to “fathers and sons.” I love healthy relationships between straight fathers and their LGBTQ+ sons.
The character of Eli was very important to me to include in this story since I wanted to put a religious character in the spotlight of tolerance, acceptance, and love.
All of the poetry in GINJUH was written by Allen T. St. Clair. He graciously gave me permission to use his poetry (since I’m not a poet) so one of my characters could be a poet.
One of my favorite parts of writing GINJUH was examining how deep, dark family secrets can ruin lives.However, with a little bravery, those things can be brought to light and dealt with appropriately.
JACOB MICHAEL IS TIRED (the 5 sequels and the Omnibus) all started out as a regular LGBTQ+ story. It wasn’t paranormal romance at all! However, when I first started writing the character Esther Jean Wagner/Oma, I could hear her so clearly in my head and I knew there was something “special” about her. I knew I had to make the book paranormal romance.
The character of Lucas was based on a guy I dated, though they look nothing alike.
JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE was the first full-length book I ever wrote. And it took over ten years to finally publish it. When I published it, I was a totally indie author.
The entire first draft of this book was written with pen and paper – I still have the notebooks that contain the first draft.
Cooper’s father was an important character to me because he wasn’t the normal absent parent you see in YA books. He was very present and welcome in his son’s life. And even though Cooper is brilliant and capable of being independent, he values his father’s wisdom and guidance. Showing that parents and their children can actually love each other’s company was important to me.
This gorgeous cover was created by Dean Cole. I cannot recommend him as a person or creative nearly enough. He’s a dream.
Of all the stories I’ve written, this is the only one that haunts me.
THE GUY GETS TEDDY has four main characters, Teddy, Rufus, Chastity, and Travis – and all of them are based on people who are near and dear to my heart.
I love musicals more than air. When I thought of the idea of an LGBTQ+ summer camp as the setting for a story, I knew I had to make it a musical/performance arts camp so I could geek out over musical numbers.
A sequel is in the works, centered around the characters of Rufus and Chastity. No idea when it will be done, so don’t ask! LOL
One question I get asked quite often, though it’s not the most asked question, is:
“How are you so prolific?”
Sometimes it comes in a different form (e.g. “How do you write so many books?”) but the essence of the question is the same. Many other writers want to know how I started publishing in 2018 and I have nearly 20 titles to my name (erm, pen name), with more than a dozen in the works.
When I’m completely at a loss for what to blog about each Tuesday, sometimes I Google: “What should writers blog about?” One thing that shows up on every single list is: “Write about your day as a writer.”
Huh. Well, I can do that. And I can also answer the question about how I’m so prolific at the same time.
Two birds. One stone. I feel so productive already!
I feel that one of my trademarks is that I’m usually bluntly honest about what my life as a writer is like. So, I’m going to be really real again with all of you today.
My writing life is best described as disorganized and chaotic. However, I have two writing lives.
On good days, I have structure and set hours; I hit my goals and expected productivity. I’m focused and determined and things go well all day long. It’s like having a regular job, but I’m paid to create and nobody tells me what to do (don’t tell The Lion Fish Press I said that).
On bad (or just not good days), I work 20 hours a day just trying to make one thing work. My hours are erratic, my mind is scattered, projects are not getting completed, and I feel like I should just give up on the whole thing. Yes, even somewhat established authors feel that way sometimes.
Nevertheless, let’s talk about Good Days.
On good days, I get up with my husband and we have breakfast and coffee. We talk about the day ahead, laugh and tell jokes. Feed our dog. I make his lunch to take to work. He gets a shower. I see him out the door, and then I wash up dishes, do a few other necessary chores, get a shower, and then I sit down at my computer in the office.
I try to make myself write 5k words a day. I write between 1 million and 2 million words a year. I know–that seems like a lot. However, I made a deal with myself early on. I just have to write 5k words a day. Quality doesn’t matter. That can be dealt with in editing. But an author needs scenes to work with to have a story, so the words have to be written. Ultimately, between 100k and 200k words of mine from the year actually get used. The rest go to the manuscript graveyard in the sky.
This part of my day takes anywhere from 3 to 6 hours.
Then I answer emails from readers, my imprint, other writers, people with writing/business opportunities, and so forth. I go through emails and other materials sent to me by my imprint. I answer any correspondence I get through this website. I go through physical mail I’ve received. Sign copies of books that need to be mailed out. I write blog posts, guest blog posts, write the text to send to my imprint to create newsletters, approve cover designs, promo materials…this all takes about 2 hours of my day. Usually.
Somewhere in all of that, I take 30 minutes to have a decent lunch away from my computer. I take my dog outside for a bathroom break. And sometimes I squeeze in some games of Among Us with other writers who are as geeky as I am.
I play on Twitter and promo. I answer tweets, reply to tweets that interest me, and check in with my online friends whom I cherish.
About that time, my husband is walking in the door and we start dinner.
That’s my schedule for a Good Day.
On a Bad Day…well, just throw all of that in a blender and see what comes out. I write in spurts when I can, personal stuff gets in the way (emergency vet visits, doctor visits, too many delivery people at the door, a pipe is leaking under the sink…you get the idea), and I just do the best I can. At times, I have to stay up well after my husband has crawled into bed so that I can hit my word goal for the day. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes emails don’t get responded to for 48 hours. Sometimes my imprint has to call and make sure I’m alive because I’m not responding to or completing tasks in a timeframe that we’ve set. Failure happens.
I just try harder the next day.
Being a work-at-home writer, the onus is often placed on me to make sure mine and my husband’s home life goes smoothly. Don’t get me wrong–my husband is wonderful–but being home all day, it is understandable that I will be the first line of defense in handling unexpected events in our lives. Those things get in the way of my workday. It is what it is.
Now that you understand my work day–regardless of how well it goes–let me address the prolific question.
In all of that, did you see me mention children? Or a separate day job? I write full-time from home. I don’t have children to care for all day long. I have my dog and my husband, and while they are a handful, they don’t need me watching over them like children would. I have a lot of time to myself to focus on my writing.
Also, when I started publishing independently in May of 2018, I had 10 or more manuscripts completed, ready to be beta-read, developmental edited, edited, formatted, and published. I’d written at least 10 books that were good enough to consider publishing.
I started writing when I was a teenager. Writing was my escape. Something I did to pass boring afternoon hours or hours at night when I couldn’t sleep. To escape life. I scratched out ideas and scenes in classes and at the kitchen table after school. I was always writing. Notebook upon notebook was filled with scenes and full stories. By the time I published my first book, I’d been writing for 12 years. I’d just never formally published…anything…before then.
When I finally found the courage to put myself out there, my proverbial gun was locked and loaded.
The proliferation of my catalog wasn’t something magical and I’m not really sixteen raccoons in a trench coat.
I don’t have ghost writers or extra fingers on my hands or extra arms or a magic wand–all things that have been speculated about on Twitter at some point or another. I’m just “Chase Connor.”
Just one dumb writer dude (see what I did there?) who has been writing for 14 years, writes 1-2 million words a year, and hustles like the rent was due yesterday.
Sure, I have an amazing developmental editor who helps me figure out my stories and organize my thoughts. I have plenty of beta-readers who graciously share their thoughts and critiques with me. But there’s no secret to what I’m doing. It’s lots of support. No children demanding hours out of my day. I have the privilege of getting to do this all day from home. It’s hard work that I’m fortunate enough to get to do mostly unencumbered.
Welcome to 2021, my friends! It feels like I haven’t “seen” any of you since last year!
Yes. I’m sorry for making *that* joke…
Starting a new year should be about hope, positivity, and loving ourselves. When one year ends and another begins, it’s a renewal; a chance to start over and try to get things right. Out with old, bad behaviors and in with new, good behavoirs.
Because of this, I wanted to start 2021 by pointing out something that may not be obvious to a lot of creatives–a behavior(s) that is bad for us (and I am 100% guilty of).
No matter what we create–books, art, films–a lot of us tend to compare ourselves to others, especially those we look up to and respect. Even if what they create is completely different from what we create. I, for one, am very guilty of thinking about how much I love Salman Rushdie and how I will never write anything as gorgeous as his works. I’ll read books by other writers in the Writing Community and think, jeez, I wish I had written that line.
The thing is, I don’t write Salman Rushdie-esque books. And maybe I eventually *would* have written that line I loved, but someone beat me to it.
Holding these things in my brain, letting them fester and tunnel a dark hole into my confidence is pointless. Salman Rushdie doesn’t write LGBTQ+ YA, NA, paranormal romance, and Lit Fic. And I have a few lines I’m pretty proud of that no one else wrote.
So…why do I still get inside my own head at times?
Well, society has conditioned me to be that way.
Have you ever heard someone say: “Man, check out my novel. You’ll love reading it!” Or have you seen a tweet that says: “Check out my art! You’ll love it!”
Did you automatically think: “What an egotistical asshole!”?
We’ve been trained to believe that believing in ourselves is egotistical. Society teaches us that we have to be humble to the point of negativism or defeatism. If someone compliments us, we feel the need to downplay the compliment. “I was just lucky!” “Well, it’s not my best…” “Yeah, but so-and-so’s book is even better!”
What the fuck is the point of all of that?
We don’t want to open ourselves up to being called egotistical or putting ourselves in a spotlight where we are possibly going to be more ardently critiqued. We feel that if we accept a compliment, we’re insulting all of the things we think are better and also deserve praise.
We often think that people are just being nice because we know that society has trained us to be nice.
Or, sometimes, people–such as myself–are just awkward and they don’t know how to accept a compliment without sounding like a complete fool.
Additionally, we also fear that if someone compliments us, and we say too much about the work they are praising, they might get annoyed with us. That’s another thing society has taught us to do. Give a compliment, get a quick thanks, transaction over. If someone breaks this unwritten social rule, they are an annoyance.
“Well, I said I liked their book and they took two minutes of my time telling me how much they loved writing it. What. An. Asshole.”
These are thoughts and behaviors we all need to stop having and committing.
We need to give sincere compliments. Give sincere thanks (without belittling ourselves). Be prepared for a discussion these interactions invite. Stop judging people for being confident and/or complimenting themselves.
We have to give ourselves permission to love our work, love our fellow creatives, and love that these things create interactions.
Instead of choosing to participate in previous toxic behaviors, we have to open ourselves up to the idea that art–in all its forms, all levels of quality, all genres and mediums–is what makes life worth living.
The human experience is described, understood, and celebrated through creation.
Life is art. Art is life.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but going forward, every compliment will be met with an enthusiastic:
I might not be confident enough yet to say much else, but I will keep myself from downplaying the compliment or demanding that the critic is wrong or lying or just being nice.
I will give genuine compliments and expect “Thank you!” in return. If a creative wants to talk about their work more, I will welcome those interactions and not call them egotistical in my head for them appreciating their work and my love of it.
If I see anyone doing otherwise, I will walk away. Ignore it.
We have review sites to leave thoughts on all kinds of art. We don’t need to drag the negativity into casual interactions with each other–unless invited to do so by the creator.
So, use 2021 to give yourself permission to love yourself and your art. To have some confidence. To lift other creatives up. Practice enough and it will become a behavior of which you’re proud.