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

Love Letter Synopsis

As those of you who follow me on Twitter might have seen this weekend, I released the first video promo for SENDING LOVE LETTERS TO ANIMALS AND OTHER TOTALLY NORMAL HUMAN BEHAVIORS (December 3rd!). It’s a super sweet video that The Lion Fish Press created featuring the song Leave Me Alone that Punk Ass Unicorns graciously allowed us to use.

Shout out to A.J. Urbanek, my sibling from another parental unit who is the bassist for Punk Ass Unicorns! A.J. is also now my imprint sibling, having just signed a publishing contract with The Lion Fish Press!

I’m so proud to have this video as part of my promo package for SLLTAaOTNHB (it’s a long title, let me have this)! I think it perfectly captures the angsty/fuck-off attitude that goes along with one of the characters of the book. There’s also an emo/angsty attitude to another character, but that will come in a later video promo…

Regardless, I thought I’d do something a little out of character today and give a more in depth synopsis of the book.

In SENDING LOVE LETTERS TO ANIMALS… (another shortcut), Ryan Offsteader is a gay teen whose family accepts and loves him–even if his older sister treats him like an older sister is wont to do. His school is LGBTQIA friendly. His friends love him for who he is, even if they’re all imperfect. He does pretty well in his classes, belongs to the Journalism Club, loves Broadway musicals, and is leading a fairly average American high schooler’s existence.

Ryan spends his free time with his Dad–when forced–and hanging out with his best friend, Jules. Most nights, Ryan and Jules watch horror movies–or movies his other best friend, Davud, recommends. Some nights, if their friends apply enough pressure, they hang out at the Low Key Cafe, an all-ages club that plays songs that have been popular on TikTok, serves drinks like Boba Tea, La Croix, and Ramune, and has decor that is “Instagrammable.” Everyone hates the club because it’s so trendy, but they all low key love it. Hence its name.

All in all, it’s a pretty mundane, yet typical, experience.

One day, Ryan’s journalism mentor, Ms. Tabatabai switches up all of the assignments for the 6 members of the Journalism Club. Then, she assigns buddy projects in her English class. That would be fine for Jules and Ryan, since they normally partner up for those types of assignments. However, due to an odd number of students, and the fact that Ms. Tabatabai decides she will pair up students herself, Ryan finds out that Jules will not be his partner. When the new student arrives in a few days, he will be paired up with them.

Again, Ryan decides that this is fine. It’s just another day in his boring high school experience. However, when the new student shows up, he realizes that this new student is not a stranger. His high school experience suddenly goes from boring, to terrifying. This new student knows a secret about Ryan and absolutely hates his guts.

As if things weren’t falling apart fast enough for Ryan, Ms. Tabatabai signs him up to help the Drama teacher, Mr. Melvin, with the spring singing recital – A Night on Broadway. Even if Ryan wanted to focus on figuring out how to deal with this new hiccup in his life, he might be too busy.

Before he knows it, all of his friends are begging for more of his time, he’s struggling with his new Journalism Club assignment, and his new partner is doing everything he can to make the project impossible to complete.

Unless Ryan can confront his history and right a wrong, his whole world could fall apart. Will he choose to confront his past, or will history repeat itself?

SENDING LOVE LETTERS TO ANIMALS AND OTHER TOTALLY NORMAL HUMAN BEHAVIORS is a story about confronting our past and present, and deciding who we want to be in the future. Because we may not be able to control a lot of things, but we get to decide who we are.

More information to come on pre-order dates, formats, and the like–but the official release date is December 3rd, 2021! I can’t wait to share this story with all of you!

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

The Boy from The Barn

Continuing on with the theme of taking blog topic suggestions friends have given me on Twitter, @northie_writer suggested that I write about how easy or difficult it is or isn’t to include non-cis queer people in romance stories. Honestly, I don’t have a ton of non-cis queer people in previous books I’ve released, but an upcoming book has a character who is genderfluid.

Before we start, if you are not versed with what it means to be non-cis or are not versed in gender identity, this is a great jumping off point.

As you can see from the above NPR glossary, there are a lot of terms people use to label their gender. Or they prefer not to label their gender at all or feel they have no gender. Gender expression varies greatly from one individual to the next. Even two people who identify as men might express themselves differently. Not every genderfluid person will express themselves the same.

It really is up to the individual how they express their gender based on internal feelings, their dress, behaviors, and so forth. When dealing with other people, it is always a great idea to ask about preferred pronouns and gender terms.

I’ve always identified as cis-gender male and connect with my gender assigned to me at birth. I use he/him pronouns, but would not be offended if someone used they/them. Even if someone called me she/her, I don’t think I’d get all that upset. Sometimes I do like to paint my fingernails (because a guy likes to feel pretty sometimes) and I have a penchant for cardigans, but that doesn’t change the fact that I feel male and connect with that gender.

Regardless, in POSSIBLY TEXAS (coming March 2021), there is a character who is genderfluid.

Auguste Anderson is biologically male, assigned male at birth, generally uses he/him pronouns, but identifies as genderfluid. He expresses this a lot in his clothing choices. He spends his days at the barn down by Susurrus Creek, working on his art, and then does mysterious things when night falls. He’s also the person who shows the main character, Jordan, around Possibly proper.

He is “The Boy from the Barn,” which you will learn more about when you read the book.

For me, writing Auguste has been as natural as writing any other character I’ve ever written. A character’s voice pops into my head, and I just seem to understand them. Maybe I don’t understand how it feels to be genderfluid or non-cis since I am cisgender, but I understand what it means to be Auguste.

Writing Auguste is like writing any character who is radically different from myself–which is almost all of my characters, to be honest. I write who they are as a person, as I see them in my mind’s eye, and try to honor that. I do my utmost to be respectful and educated about different identities, ethnicities, genders, religions, and so forth, all while keeping my mind open to learning more each day. However, I also try to stay true to the character.

One thing I keep in mind when writing different identities is this:

If I am writing someone of a different race or ethnicity, I could speak to dozens of people who align with that race or ethnicity, but none of them will have the same experience. Though they will have many things in common (most likely), experiences differ from person to person.

The same can be said for non-cis queer people. I could never one-hundred percent describe the experiences of a non-cis queer person so that every non-cis queer person would say “It me!” when they read the story. All I can do is learn as much as I can about non-cis queer people and do my best to honor that while staying true to the character. I also have to do it fearlessly–like I do with all of my characters. I can’t get into my own head about whether or not what I write will align 100% with every person who shares a character’s identity. I will most likely ruffle feathers unintentionally. I have to accept that and be willing to listen to people who feel I did a character injustice or was not as respectful as I could have been.

It’s all part of being a writer. You hope you are respectful and educated and kind, but sometimes you might fuck up. All you can do is keep an open mind and be open to listening, learning, and growing.

Aside from these facts, there is one thing I am certain of when writing a non-cis queer person in a romance story.

Love is universal for those who experience it.

This goes for ANY character I write. Sex, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, creed, sexuality…love is love. Culture and environment (not to mention nature vs. nurture) might play a role in how someone expresses their love, but the feelings are the same for everyone. When we find our person, it’s the same for us all. A non-cis queer person will not feel love in a different way than a cisgender queer person. Love is love is love is love…

In the end, I’m still writing a story with a romantic element between two human beings. What they look like, how they identify, and how others see them doesn’t factor greatly into their human experience with love.

When people read about Auguste, I do want to represent non-cis queer people well and be as respectful as possible. But I also don’t want people to think that how he loves is different because of his gender expression (or lack thereof). Like many people, Auguste wants to love someone for who they are, and have that person return the love, regardless of how gender is expressed.

So, to make a long story short, I don’t find writing any character difficult based on their identity(ies). As long as I can keep an open mind and lead with kindness and respect, things usually fall into place.

And if they don’t, I’m always willing to learn and grow.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Gimme More

On Twitter, I recently asked friends to suggest blog topic ideas for me. My creativity had run dry for blog post ideas. I suppose my muse was only interested in my fiction writings and had no desire to assist me with the blog for a while. While the muse has returned since my Twitter post went live, there were so many good ideas presented that I just had to use some of them.

Felyx Lawson, author of L.I.F.E., suggested that I write a post about what I want to see more in LGBTQIA novels. While I am an author and can write any thing I feel that a story needs, I’m also a reader. I don’t just write–I read, too! There are certain things I’d love to see more of when I read other people’s books.

Readers–even those who also write–have opinions about books. Imagine that...

Overall, just seeing more LGBTQIA novels is great. Ask someone older than me who identifies as LGBTQIA, and they will tell you how they struggled to find a single story that accurately represented them in their youth.

Even if there was a book, it was terrifying to buy a copy or ask for it at the library. Buying books online has only been somewhat common for around 20 years. The teenagers of my generation (and those that follow) are the only ones who have benefited from relatively anonymous shopping for LGBTQIA materials.

Thank to the internet, fan fiction posted on personal sites, sites like Archive of Our Own, Wattpad, Tumblr, and even Amazon, it has been increasingly easier for young LGBTQIA people to find stories that better fit their human experience. All without worrying about judgment from others, coming out before they are ready, or having to travel to an LGBTQIA bookstore the next town over.

Publishers big and small have seen the market boom for LGBTQIA books–and realized the expendable income LGBTQIA people are willing to part with for stories that align with their lives.

Things are definitely getting better for LGBTQIA people as far as the publishing world goes.

However, there is still specificity to LGBTQIA experiences that a lot of popular books are missing.

Larger bodies, people of color, disabled characters, immigrants, age gap, polyamory, and basically any letter in LGBTQIA that is not the L and the G need more representation. Furthermore, they need more genuine representation, preferably by authors who write Own Voices.

Not that I mind reading about an MC who is a hot jock or a slender twink or a lipstick lesbian. I don’t mind the billionaire falling in love with the hot commoner who doesn’t know how hot they are stories. Any story told well that is entertaining is in danger of meeting my eyes.

But what about the jock who falls in love with the chunky guy? Or the two chunky guys finding love? Where are my shades of skin tones from alabaster to onyx? And can the stories simply be about the romance without there being the undertone of: “will the hot guy love me even though I’m fat?

I’m guilty of that last one, so no shade to any writers.

While I’ve been reassured that many heavier people often are worried that their body type will make people feel a certain way about them, I would also love to see representation of fat people who are comfortable in their skin and know their worth as romantic and sexual beings.

I want to read about an LGBTQIA immigrant and throuples. Why is love between three people any less valid than that between two people? I want accurate trans, bisexual, intersex, and (for God’s sake) asexual rep.

I don’t want every POC I read to be “light-skinned” to make them more palatable to white readers. Ebony and onyx and copper and golden and dusky and olive–all skin tones are gorgeous. Every shade deserves their LGBTQIA story to be told. And I’m desperate to read them.

I’m tired of seeing age gap romances being viewed as “taboo.” Two consenting adults finding love should be celebrated–not judged. There need to be more romances where adults (regardless of arbitrary characteristics) are allowed to love each other and have their happy ending.

Disabled characters are lacking in all publishing, as far as I’m concerned, but especially in LGBTQIA stories. In two upcoming books, I have a disabled character who uses a wheelchair and another who is non-verbal due to a congenital condition. I’ve written stutters and lisps and ASD–and I want to see more disabled characters without the disability being the only plot point to the story.

I want to see a broad spectrum of LGBTQIA people and learn about what it’s like for them to be LGBTQIA…and themselves.

I want to read how they love, how they mourn, how they make money, deal with family issues, find acceptance. Because, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I want my media to more accurately represent what my life looks like. It’s not all Caucasian gay twinks and jocks walking around and falling in love at prom. Black, brown, short, tall, thin, fat, with a range of abilities and means and privileges (or lack thereof), accents and religions, and ages and ethnicities. Stories I’ve read that meant the most to me are not just the well-written ones that were the most entertaining–they were the ones that made me consider how I think about people different from me. They challenged me to consider what it’s like to be “othered” in a way that I am not familiar with in my daily life.

They taught me compassion, empathy, and sympathy. Those stories touched the deepest part of me that is human.

The best stories taught me about life.

And in life, I want to see the rainbow.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,
Chase

On Second Thought…

Recently, I posted something personal on Twitter that made me think back on my life over the last 3 1/2 years–the entirety of my writing career (well, the part where I was getting paid). It seems like it has been a lifetime (in a good way) since I made my first dollar from some truly awful erotica. It feels just as long since my first novel–JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE–was published on June 25th, 2018. I remember clearly the moment I hit the button to make it available for purchase on Amazon/KDP. My only thought was: “Well, we’ll see what happens.

Who knew that a little book about a trio of friends and their love entanglements at an exclusive boys school in Vermont would actually give me a writing career?

Regardless, though 3.5 years is far from being a lifetime, a lot can happen in such a length of time. Love, loss, health concerns, triumphs, failures, sadness, happiness, humiliations, love, sex, fights, reconciliations, friendships…food. So much life is lived and so much experience is gained in such a relatively short amount of time. This is especially true between one’s early teenage years and 30 years old. They are such formative and informative years of life.

If you told me what would happen between June 25th, 2018 and now, I wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, it probably would have terrified me. Not that my life isn’t great and filled with joy–because it is–but there have been struggles and sadness along the way, too. Such is life, right? You just hope that the joy outweighs the sadness. In my case, the joy has made the sadness seem like nothing more than a petty annoyance.

I’m so grateful.

I’m not the same meek, self-conscious 26 year old I was when I first published. Okay. Maybe I’m still a little self-conscious, but I’m working on it. Also, I am pretty meek, I suppose. Unless I’m on social media and I have to “be on.” My default setting is “chill” unless I’m with people I am close to in real life.

Forty-two months have irrevocably changed me. Almost entirely for the better, in my opinion. Some may disagree, but that’s not something with which to concern myself. As I creep up on the beginning of my fourth decade of life, I don’t just look back on life itself, but on my creations.

When I write, I borrow a lot from life. Not to say that every event in one of my books has happened in my life, but the emotions, philosophies, morals, beliefs, sense of humor–it all guides my brain when it tells my fingers what to tap out on the keyboard. Each time I wrote a book, it was like capturing the essence of who I am in a snapshot in time.

It makes me wonder…would those books be the same if I had written them now?

Ultimately, I have realized that every book I’ve written was a perfect snapshot of who I was as a writer *and* a person at that moment in time. There are things I’ve written that don’t resonate with me as deeply as they once did. There are things I’ve written that I am only starting to decipher as my innermost self trying to explain the world to me. There are stories I’ve written that I don’t think I would have written now because I don’t know if I believe what I wrote anymore.

It’s more common that I still 100% percent stand behind my stories, but there are exceptions. I’m not the same writer…because I’m not the same person. I’ll never be the same person. I’m evolving. As people do.

As things stand today, it’s possible that these thoughts have led me to a certain belief when it comes to writing and telling stories. Whatever it is you feel you have to get out, the stories you feel have meaning to you, it’s so important to tell them during the period of life that they come to you. They hold more weight and meaning. They help a writer to understand their journey as a person more deeply. And readers will feel more deeply connected to them. Even if the story stops resonating as much with readers, there are more readers coming along, moving into the stage of life that those stories resonate with, who will discover them.

Those stories live millions of lives in the hands of readers.

Writing is not just a person explaining what life means to them, but helping others to discover all of the different ways life can be lived. Stories help readers learn who they are, who they were, and who they want to become. An author takes their readers on a journey with them because as we all age and learn and experience and grow, the more stories we have to tell. The more insight we can pass along.

Books can be (and, arguably, should be) entertaining, but the best books leave a piece of the author’s soul with the readers. It creates a monument to what once was a snapshot of the writer’s life–even if it’s complete fiction.

I’m so honored to share my soul with you all.

Hopefully, it helps you on your journey. At the very least, I hope you’re entertained.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,
Chase

Calling Card

This weekend, I sent out an SOS via tweet to the Writing Community because I was struggling with what to blog about. It has been a while since a good topic has come to mind–that wasn’t about an upcoming book. Lots of great ideas were suggested, because the people I follow and who follow me back are great. I’ll probably end up using all of the ideas eventually, but I can only use one per blog post, so…

Writers often have a style or thematic elements that make their writing instantly recognizable. I think I have a few things about my writing that identify it as “Chase Connor,” though I think I attempt different styles from time to time to challenge myself and keep things fresh. However, one thing that is almost 100% consistent from one book to the next is that I mention food. In some books, food is almost a character itself.

My relationship with food is…complicated. Not to say that I’ve ever had an eating disorder or a severe problem with eating, but I’ve experienced both abundancy and scarcity. Food insecurity in my youth and early adult years was something that had a major impact on who I am today. It’s a huge motivator in how hard I work and hustle. Food insecurity is something I never want to experience again. Other than losing someone I love, it is one of the things that terrifies me the most.

Needless to say, food insecurity is a major problem in the world, and if you’ve experienced it, you know how traumatic it can be. Not just in the moment, but it really shapes your future. It’s one of those lasting traumas that becomes a specter in the back of a person’s mind. I probably tend to indulge a lot more than I want due to fear of food insecurity. When you’ve had to worry about where your next, not even meal, but even bite of food, will come from, it’s paralyzing.

When you have ready access to good, whole, nutritious food, life is good. Obviously, food being a basic need, having easy access to it, and the means to acquire it makes life so much easier. It relieves anxiety and lets a person focus on living a better life and achieving their dreams. Like shelter and water, basic needs being met, and not worrying about them, is critical and should be a basic right for all human beings. Even so, it doesn’t just have to be viewed as simply a necessity.

Food is also a great luxury and indulgence. A great plate of cheesy pasta, a juicy steak, pastries–crispy, creamy, crunchy, chewy, spicy, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth, sour, umami–there are few foods that don’t make me happy. If you’ve ever read one of my books, you might have noticed that already.

Our race, nationality, ethnicity, and religion are sometimes identifiable through our use of food. Don’t misunderstand–I’m not talking about hateful stereotypical correlations bigots spout. I’m talking about common ingredients, dishes, and preparations that are specific to certain cultures. A creamy, crispy, velvety (yet humble and filling) cassoulet in French cooking. The expressive and exciting use of a variety of chili peppers in Mexican foods. The earthy spices and vegetarian options in Indian foods. The variety of noodles, rices, spices, sauces, and meats used in other Asian foods, not to mention the stocks and broths with so much depth you can hear choirs of angels sing when you consume them.

Food, its availability, our relationship to it, the ingredients we favor, and how we cook it is intertwined with our human existence.

Because food has shaped who I am, how I behave from day-to-day, and how I think of the past and future, I feel that it helps flesh out my characters. It informs the reader about what their life is like, their geographical location, or simply lets a reader know some of their likes and dislikes.

But you don’t have to take my word in this blog post. Let me break it down for you:

JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE series – The food court at Dextrus Academy has a coffee bar, a taco cart, and an Indian option. Donuts and bagels make an appearance frequently. A date between two characters and a celebratory dinner take place at a Thai restaurant. JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE was my first published book and it proves I was all about the food from the beginning, mentioning some of my absolute favorites.

GAVIN’S BIG GAY CHECKLIST – Mexican and Tex-Mex food, as well as some Jewish and Polish (by way of Ukraine) foods, are mentioned frequently throughout this book. From menudo, to chilaquiles, to tacos, to matzo balls and pierogi, food informed the reader about the main character’s likes and dislikes, as well as explored his racial and ethnic identity.

A SURPLUS OF LIGHT – When Ian and Mike “meet” for the first time, they share Cheetos and Cokes, though we later find out that Ian prefers sunflower seeds and half-lemonade-half-tea. The Cheetos and Cokes were an “in” for Mike to get Ian to drop his guard and talk to him. Food loosens everyone up, right?

JACOB MICHAELS IS… series – Oma makes heartwarming, stomach-filling, stick-to-your-ribs breakfasts and German meals. This not only informs the reader about Oma as a character, it also helped set the Midwest backdrop of the series.

WHEN WORDS GROW FANGS – Jude and his family are of Italian descent, so pasta and other Italian dishes are mentioned frequently. In fact, the book opens during Christmas and all of the foods that comprised their Christmas dinner are written about at length. If you don’t start that book with your mouth watering, you’re probably not human.

A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF NORMAL – several scenes in the book take place in the main characters’ favorite diner where Noah always gets pancakes and sausages. Food texture was used to explore an ASD character’s identity and explain a relationship to food many people don’t experience.

BRIEFLY BUDDIES – A lot of the book takes place in a hamburger/ice cream joint. Need I say more?

These are just a few of the examples of how food appears and plays a part in my stories.

For me, writing about food is just as natural as writing about being LGBTQIA. Or human. It’s (hopefully) a common element in all people’s lives and plays a role in who they are. As long as a person has a healthy relationship with food, it is comforting and elicits memories of family dinners, or dinners with friends, or an amazing meal they had on vacation, or a new food they tried that changed their whole perspective. It reminds them of times and places and memories–that were hopefully good–and helps them settle into the setting of the story and identify with the characters who inhabit it.

Beyond that, I just love food. Writing passages describing foods I love make me happy as a writer. So, my characters loving food is one of the ways that I inject myself into my characters. It grounds the story in reality and makes it easier for readers to accept the characters as fully fleshed out individuals.

I’m certain many of you are wondering what my favorite meal is, or what a perfect meal for me would be. There are just too many wonderful cuisines, ingredients, and preparations to give a specific answer. However, humble, warming, gut-filling dishes made with good ingredients by someone who loves to cook will always leave an impression on me. The dish doesn’t have to include anything exotic or expensive–it just has to be prepared with love and good ingredients that go well together. If it also contains a shit ton of carbs and fat, even better. Additionally, having at least one wonderful person to enjoy it with makes it a slam dunk.

To appease everyone, one of my favorite meals is spaghetti carbonara. It’s simple, humble, easy to make, and comprised of ingredients that are available almost everywhere. However, when my husband and I sit at the table and enjoy it together, it feels like home. For the record, we make it the “easy way” with bacon and parmesan since guanciale and Pecorino Romano are not always readily available here.

Until the day I stop writing, food will be a calling card in my books. And I can’t wait to write about more delicious things…

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Don’t Speak

Out of all of my writing skills, I think I excel at dialogue. How people communicate naturally and effectively is something I can convey well in my writing. Even as I type this out, I feel kind of like an asshole for patting myself on the back. However, I’m trying to get better at admitting my strengths and weaknesses without feeling egotistical or shitty.

It’s a skill I’m trying to hone. There’s nothing wrong with saying: “I do <this> well.” And there’s no shame in admitting: “I need to do <this> better.” It’s a skill every person should have and use. It’s the only way we can lean into our strengths and work on our weaknesses, right?

Regardless, my strength at writing dialogue has not been much help recently.

I’m currently in the final rewrites and edits of my next book, and the two MCs don’t actually talk to each other much. Most of their communication is done without talking. As you can imagine, that’s a bit of a challenge for any author, but it’s particularly arduous for an author who feels that dialogue is one of their strengths.

So, what does an author do when they have to convey communication between two characters if they can’t rely on direct dialogue between the two?

The first thing I had to do was unlearn all of my writing skills I had as far as making two characters interact was concerned. I couldn’t have two characters speak directly to each other? Okay. Then, that’s a skill I need to push to the back of my brain when those two characters share a scene.

Then what???

It took some time, but I realized that I need to pay attention to non-verbal cues when interacting with others, or watching two people interact. If someone became angry during a conversation, how did their body show it? What did their face do? Did each person react to the body language of the other person?

Even though watching two other people interact–and paying attention while I was interacting with others–there was talking (or dialogue), so it’s not quite like the scenario in my book, clearly. However, if I ignored what was being said, I could focus on what was going on physically with the participants in a conversation.

How do two people physically address and respond to each other when meeting up for a romantic evening at a restaurant? Seeing each other for the first time in a long time at the airport? Greeting each other for a chat over coffee at the coffee shop? Run into each other on the street by chance outside of a store?

There are a million and one different ways that people’s bodies and faces respond to someone they like, love, or don’t like or love. It’s clearly obvious from watching a person’s body language if they are around someone they despise.

Since I couldn’t use dialogue to convey these things in the book, I had to rely on descriptions of body language. And that was what I needed to study and familiarize myself with while writing.

After this book, it’s unlikely I’ll have another scenario where characters can’t speak directly to each other–at least none that I can foresee–but this exercise and education will not be a one-off. Even for authors writing normal dialogue, learning to describe a character’s body language is an invaluable skill.

We’ve all heard “Show. Don’t tell.” so much when it comes to writing our stories, right?

Well, challenge yourself to not have a character say: “I’m angry!

Show me that they’re angry. Are they clenching their teeth? Tightening their jaw? Balling their fists at their side? Is their face turning red or their mouth twisting up churlishly?

In my opinion, great dialogue makes a book worth reading. However, it has to be broken up by narrative and description. A book of just dialogue is, well, a script. It’s meant to be used to put on a play, or make a television show or movie. The people who see it will not need to use their imagination as much.

With novels, we have to help immerse readers in our worlds. Help them to understand the characters inside and out. Sure, forcing the reader to use their imagination is important as well–we don’t want to give them everything. However, it’s hard for someone to care about a world or its inhabitants if they don’t feel connected to it. The physicality of the characters and what is going on around them does a lot of the work.

So, tell your characters: “Don’t speak.” At least sometimes. Let your narrative and descriptive passages–your showing–drag the reader into your world.

If nothing else, it will help you become a better writer. However, it might even help you become a better communicator in real life, too.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,
Chase