The Red Rooster Tavern

In 3 days, MURDER AT THE RED ROOSTER TAVERN (A Point Worth LGBTQ Paranormal Romance Book 7) drops! After the first cycle of “Jacob Michaels Is…,” Book 7 continues with the further adventures of Jacob Michels, er, Robert Wagner. Well…reimagined.

In case you haven’t read this post yet, you might want to reference it (SPOILER HEAVY, SO BE WARNED!). That post will give you a little more background on the first 6 books in the series and what to expect for future books.

However, I thought today, in light of its impending/upcoming release, I would fill everyone in more on what to expect from the next “Jacob Michaels Is…” cycle.

So, let’s start, my friends!

The Red Rooster Tavern – Open Soon!

Jacob Michaels is returning to Point Worth…again? Even before he goes beyond the magickal veil that surrounds his hometown, he knows that something isn’t right. Jacob has come home to talk to his Oma about what troubles him, figure out what can be done…and to settle old heartaches. However, a werewolf attack at The Red Rooster Tavern the first night he’s in town throws a wrench in his plans. When a dead body is found in the alley behind the tavern the following day, things only get more complicated. Especially since his grandmother might be a prime suspect! Jacob will have to work with a long-lost love to clear his grandmother’s name. Like all things that happen in Point Worth, nothing makes sense, everyone is a suspect, and nothing is easy.

Just like the first 6 books in the JMI series, MURDER AT THE RED ROOSTER TAVERN starts off another cycle of Jacob Michaels’, er, Rob Wagner’s, life in a world ruled by magicks and paranormal creatures.

As before, readers will be left with cliffhangers, more questions than answers with each book, each will be longer than the one before, the multi-book arc gaining steam with each entry. With book 4–the final book in this second cycle–everything will be laid bare. Nothing is as it seems, readers should not get too comfortable with anything they believe is happening, and no character is guaranteed safety. Sound familiar?

Unlike the first cycle of JMI, the hot and heavy scene(s) come much earlier in “ROOSTER.” So, that’s something to have the readers grinning.

A new character, Austin, is introduced, and will feature heavily in the next 3 books.

New Point Worth locations will be the background(s) of this twisting, turning, multiple murders mystery that will only be solved when the last chapter of the fourth book is read.

Readers should be happy that all of their favorite characters will return in this cycle. Some of the characters they didn’t like will be back as well. BWAHAHAHA!

And finally, we may or may not get to find out more about the mysterious organization known as…The Council.

I really think that dedicated JMI readers will enjoy this new adventure and will have a great time on the ride. And I can’t wait to share all four books with all of you!

Important to note–like the books in the first cycle, ebooks will be $2.99 and paperbacks will be kept in the $9.99 to $12.99 range.

An omnibus for JMI CYCLE 2 will be available after all 4 books have been released, in case you are thinking about buying the paperbacks.

Also, if you would like to buy some The Red Rooster Tavern merch, check out the Chase Connor Books merch store!

So, buckle up, get ready…death is back on the menu in Point Worth!

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Why Don’t They Love Me?

Writers often have people who serve as front line readers whenever they are workshopping a new piece of work. Whether you want to call this “alpha-readers,” “test audience,” or something else, these readers help a writer refine and improve their first draft. They’re invaluable and often a great resource for writers.

Alpha-readers are generally people who love books, love to read, are great at critiquing, and want to help an author create the very best second draft for beta-readers. They’re enthusiastic and fully on board with the process, ready to assist an author in any way that is appropriate. Alpha-readers can be paid, unpaid, volunteer, recruits, or anything in between. Often, these readers are friends or family of an author, or peers in the writing world. More often than not, they are peers.

Many authors try to recruit lifelong friends and family members to read their first draft. Many are met with disappointment.

Something that I see discussed frequently in the writing community is whether or not writers let their family and/or friends read their work. Some writers insist that they want friends and/or family to read their work, others (usually erotica writers working under a nom de plume) do not ever want their work read by people they are close to, and others are indifferent.

Like most things writing related, the preference varies from writer to writer. What a writer would like from their friends and/or family in regards to support is something you can only find out by asking each writer individually. For example, I’m fine with my nearest and dearest asking for advanced copies of my books–or even requesting/buying copies after release–to check out my work. It’s fine. I rarely ask anyone I know to read a specific work of mine, but I’m pleased when they decide they want to do it.

Many writers get very upset, even offended, if their friends and family do not read their work. Or worst yet–DON’T WANT TO READ IT.

I’ve seen many posts from well-meaning individuals claiming that a husband’s refusal to read his spouse’s work (or vice versa), is problematic. They’re not being supportive of your dream! They don’t love you as much as they should!

Look, my partner reads my work. I don’t ask him to do it, and he’s not required to do it. Yet, he does, and it makes me happy. But I’d be fine if he didn’t want to read anything I wrote.

Support comes in many forms–not just in the consumption of something a person has created. Support can be encouraging words, kisses and hugs on hard days, proclamations that the writer should never give up on their dream, doing extra housework and kid(s) duties so the writer has more time to write, extra financial support in the household, and just being there to listen on bad days or celebrate on good days.

Some people are just not readers. Some people don’t like reading certain genres or only enjoy one genre. Some people are just nervous to read the work of someone they are close to–because it comes with the unspoken assumption that feedback will be given at the end. That is nerve-wracking. Giving less than enthusiastic feedback to a stranger can be anxiety-inducing. If it’s someone you love and know well? You may as well just induce a heart attack.

Reading and giving critique is not in everyone’s wheelhouse.

As writers, we know how difficult it is to put ourselves out there creatively. We should respect how difficult it is for our loved ones to critique us. They don’t want to hurt our feelings or keep us from chasing our dreams. So, sometimes they would rather just offer other forms of support.

We have to be okay with this.

It doesn’t mean they don’t love you and support you–they’re either just simply not interested in reading (which is fine), or they’re protecting their mental health as well. Learn boundaries and be respectful of them.

Sure, if someone you love is actively undermining your hustle, you should not tolerate it. However, simply not reading your work is not abusive, rude, or even unkind.

Let people support you in the way that is most comfortable for them. Save your books for the readers you don’t know.

But, if a friend or family member (who isn’t problematic) asks to read your work, let them. Even if it makes you nervous. Having someone you love give you harsh critique will help build self-esteem and a backbone for when the real critiques come after publishing.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

La Vie Est Une Aventure

Writing books for a living is the dream for me. One which I’m living. And I’m eternally grateful. Each day I wake up with a song in my heart…and a craving for donuts and coffee. Anything sweet to go with my coffee, really, but that’s neither here nor there.

When a full-time writer (*cough* me *cough*) also tries to think of a topic or theme to blog about each week, it’s a bit of a drag. Not that I don’t enjoy writing my blog on Chase Connor Books–I freaking love it!–but sometimes I just don’t know what I can write two-thousand-ish about sometimes.

So…this week…I’m falling back on taking the easy way out. I thought I’d fill you all in on how life is going, what I’m up to with my writing, and perform a general Chase Connor Status Check.

It’s easier than thinking of something real to blog about. Don’t judge me!

Life is good. It’s great even. Things at home are going well. SAM and I are both healthy, happy, and still in love. Wish he’d pick up after his goddamn self more, but it’s a small thing to put up with, right?

Our fur-baby is healthy, happy, and loved tremendously as well. We had a “poop in the hall” incident recently, but it’s a small thing to put up with, right?

Narrator: It wasn’t a *small thing*. *BARF*

Regardless, we’re all doing well, we’re vaccinated against COVID yet still acting responsibly, and we can’t really ask for much out of life that we don’t already have. It’s a good place to find oneself.

As far as writing goes, MURDER AT THE RED ROOSTER TAVERN (A POINT WORTH LGBTQ PARANORMAL ROMANCE BOOK SEVEN) is coming out in a few weeks (May 7th, to be exact). I’m really excited to share this new adventure of Jacob Michaels’, er, Rob Wagner’s with you all, and I think you’ll all really enjoy it. More creatures, magic, sass, and sexy times abound!

Recently, The Lion Fish Press sent out blue envelopes to select readers that contained Chase Connor Books bookmarks, a sticker from The Red Rooster Tavern (the fictional tavern in Point Worth/JACOB MICHAELS IS… series), and a sticker from The Juice from Jude (the website/blog that Jude ran in WHEN WORDS GROWN FANGS). I hope everyone has received their envelopes and enjoyed the little treats.

Lately, I’ve been working on something extra spicy. I can’t talk about it much since it’s a surprise, but it’s something that might shock you all. <insert naughty laugh here> More to come on that in the coming months.

Aside from the extra spicy recipe I’m working on, there is a super secret project I’ve just gotten some artwork for…and, well…you’ll all just have to wait. But I will say–pay attention to my Twitter posts, blog posts, and maybe you’ll get a little hint from time to time?

Additionally, I’m working with another author on a big project that many of you will be able to get involved with if you so choose. In the coming months, we’ll be dropping information on Twitter and other social media, on websites, and in newsletters, so that you can all “sign up” if you like. Make sure you’re signed up for the Chase Connor Newsletter and follow me on Twitter!

And all of this is in addition to the two million (give or take) books I’ve already announced will be coming in the future. There’s something wrong with me. I know.

Regardless of how busy I find myself, life is an adventure. With SAM, our fur-baby, writing, the world (such as it is), and day-to-day happenings, I’m rarely bored. I’m loving every minute of it. I hope you are, too!

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Amour, Amor, Amore!

Did you know the average romance book reader discovered the genre between the ages of 11 and 18, ages 30 to 54 make up the biggest market for the genre, 84% of the readers are female, and it’s an industry that brings in between 1.08 BILLION to 1.6 BILLION dollars a year in the U.S. alone? About 39% of the sales now are in digital format (Kindle, Nook, etc.).

When you talk smack about the romance genre, you’re making a lot of enemies.

Now, these statistics are comprised of the romance genre and all of its sub-genres (M/M, historical, Christian, horror, erotica, contemporary, new adult, young adult, and paranormal, to name the prime suspects). However, it is an industry that continues to grow year after year. Romance readers are voracious in their appetites for more books, new stories, and lots of love and emotion.

In fact, the romance book industry is a third larger than the inspirational genre market. It’s also the size of the mystery and sci-fi/fantasy genre markets combined.

It’s big business. It’s valid business.

All of the statistics seem to show that the romance market is growing and no matter how many eyes get rolled at the thought of a romance novel, readers just can’t get enough. While trends show that ebooks make up the lion’s share of sales, mass market paperbacks come in close with 32% of the sales, 18% in trade paperbacks, and 9% in hardbacks. Only 1% of romance books are sold in audiobook format, but statistics show that audiobook sales might be on the rise as well.

So…why do so many authors like to roll their eyes at the genre?

Well, let’s look at what is expected when a reader picks up a romance novel:

A love story is basically what the entire plot revolves around.

Characters are expected to be better-than-average looking (usually).

The “tone” leans towards the flirtatious, if not sexual, and can be anything from swoon-worthy to outright raunchy.

Romance stories can take place anywhere, they are unlimited in their potential settings.

An optimistic and emotionally satisfying ending is expected.

Writers–and I speak from experience–like to consider themselves intellectuals who ponder the human existence. What makes us tick. What is the very essence of the human condition…then write about it. We like to think that we can tell the story how it is meant to be told as it unfurls on the screen before us. We are uncompromising. We are true to our art. We are wordsmiths and raconteurs. There are no limitations or “Do’s and do nots” when we write.

WE WILL NOT LET READERS DICTATE THE STORY–WE WILL DAZZLE THE READERS WITH OUR BRILLIANCE AND BRING THEM TO OUR SIDE WITH OUR AMAZING SKILLS! EVEN IF THE DOG DIES, THEY WILL THANK US IN THE END!

That’s all really a load of garbage.

Readers know what they want when they pick up a story–even more so when they pick up a romance novel. Sure, sometimes we can wow a reader with a story and make them fall in love, even if they got something they didn’t expect when they picked up our book. However, many readers are more satisfied when they pick up a book from a genre and have a general idea of what they are getting themselves into from the get go.

Readers–especially voracious readers–are often up for an adventure and to try new books–but they don’t like being surprised (in an unpleasant way) when they pick up a book in their favorite genre.

When a reader finds a romance novel they love, they tend to be very loyal to the author. One good romance novel can create a life-long customer. A reader will stick with a romance novelist until one or the other perishes. Creepy, but true. When a romance reader knows that a romance writer is dependable, they put them on their “automatic read” list. It’s a good place to hold for a writer–especially if they reach a lot of readers. Having an army of readers ready to hit “Buy Now” when your next offering drops is a career maker.

That’s nothing to sniff at, my friends.

Yet…writers still often turn their noses up when someone says: Romance Novel.

I get it. I really do. I write romance plots into a lot of my books, though I wouldn’t really say I’m a romance novelist. I think there is often too much conflict (and maybe death) in my books to qualify. I’d probably bristle if someone referred to me as such because romance is generally not the central focus of my stories.

Having said that, I’d LOVE to be someone’s favorite romance novelist. Sign your name in blood and join the cult, my minions!

However, I still see the writers’ side of things. The way they feel that romance is an overdone, trite, eyeroll worthy genre. It feels limiting to creativity if you look at it straight on. I mean…readers expect certain things from you and will burn you at the stake if you don’t deliver.

When you really look at the romance genre, though, you can see how freeing it is. Let me explain:

  1. The expectations are determined. There’s no guess work.
  2. You know how to resolve and end your book–happy endings for the leads!
  3. A writer knows what the central plot is before they type a single word.
  4. It’s easier to create a built in audience.
  5. A romance novel can be set in any place (even outer space or a fictional world) or any period of time.

Romance readers just want the feels and the squishy good vibes!

Following those guidelines, a writer can get as creative as they like. Two trans-men fall in love in outer space on a mission to colonize Mars? YAS, QUEEN! A preacher and a teacher time travel back to the Jurassic period and fall in love while trying to survive and find a way home? HELL, YEAH! Two men go do a paranormal investigation of a haunted mansion and fall in love when a spirit they summon tells them they are meant for each other? WHY. THE. FUCK. NOT?

In fact, statistics show that romance readers are leaning more towards paranormal, M/M, sci-fi, and horror stories lately. They’re always looking for something fresh, new, and exciting–yet has the comfort of familiarity.

Romance. They want the love and the happy ending for the main characters you’ve obviously made them fall in love with throughout the story.

A writer can find freedom and creativity in writing romance. They can stretch their muscles and try all kinds of crazy things. They can allow themselves to try writing gentler emotions and be vulnerable with their audience. Most importantly, they can just write.

Isn’t that what we all want to do in the first place?

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Come At Me, Bro…Kindly

Critique is not an easy thing to deal with for a lot of people. Criticism–whether constructive or otherwise–can really be a punch to the gut for anyone. No matter which industry in which a person is employed, critique is going to be part of the deal.

Every job I’ve ever had, from washing dishes and other people’s messes to the corporate world, has involved performance reviews. Of course, when you work in a “traditional” job with more structure, performance reviews are quite different than when you are, essentially, a self-employed writer.

In a “traditional” job, the performance review involves a meeting, sitting down with a supervisor or manager (or executive) and talking about your strengths and weaknesses. You are graded, reprimanded for the things you might be doing wrong, rewarded for the things you are doing right, or told to “just keep doing your job so well.”

When you’re a writer, your critiques and performance reviews come in a much different format(s).

Reviewers, beta-readers, critique partners, editors (of all sorts), friends, family, and trolls are the barometer for how well you performed your job. It comes at you from all directions in multiple formats–DMs, emails, one-on-one, blog posts, social media…in can be frightening. It can chip away at a creative’s confidence. Also…it’s just not fun to hear that maybe you weren’t perfect, right?

Regardless, critique is an integral component of learning to be better at whatever job you are performing. Everybody should welcome constructive criticism and learn how to evaluate it so that they can learn to be better.

But that’s not what this post is about.

While critiques and constructive criticism are integral to bettering ourselves, there is a dark underbelly to the Writing Community (and any creative community) where reviews, critiques, criticism, and complaints stop being helpful and are simply harmful and sadistic.

Often people equate honesty and rudeness. “Keeping it real” is a phrase often used to excuse socially inappropriate and cruel discourse. “Only the real ones” is another phrase used to try and deflect focus from the fact that a person is just outright obnoxious and cruel. People like to attack other people simply because they didn’t like something.

When did giving a personal opinion about a piece of art become so…personal?

I’ve seen my share of reviews in the past where a reviewer writes 5000+ words (a dissertation, really) about why they hated a book, movie, T.V. show, or whatever. The person writing the review put so much effort into ripping the creative to shreds that one has to wonder what is really going on. I’m not talking about a reviewer discussing cultural appropriation, racism, homophobia, or other problematic elements. They simply hated the story, the characters, the plot, the book cover, they found spelling, grammar, formatting, or punctuation errors. Nothing that should have filled their belly with such hate that they took hours out of their life to discuss these things at such length.

But those reviews exist. A lot of them do.

You’ll see people on Twitter randomly retweeting authors tweets (authors they don’t follow and haven’t tagged them) with snarky captions or outright vitriol. Sometimes they’ll say something that is racist, homophobic, misogynistic, or otherwise hateful about the author. Sometimes what they say has a ring of truth to it, but it’s just rude for the sake of being rude.

This is where I get exhausted with the idea of reviews, criticism, and critique. If you have to be rude about something simply because you didn’t like it, it wasn’t up to your standards, or you just didn’t enjoy it as much as you felt you should have…it’s time to pause, take a breath, and consider what’s really going on in your own head.

Far too recently, it has occurred to me that there is a growing collective interest in not just giving our opinions, but making it an emotionally/mentally and time-consuming mission to not only make sure that everyone knows our opinion, but they are beaten over the head with it until they begrudgingly agree just so the discussion can end. I HATED THIS PIECE OF WORK SO IT IS NOW MY LIFE’S MISSION TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE ELSE FEELS THE SAME WAY AND IF THEY DON’T THEY ARE WRONG AND I WILL MAKE SURE THEY ARE PUT ON BLAST FOR IT!

I mean…aren’t we all exhausted? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I just don’t have the emotional or mental energy to take up such a cause. I don’t enjoy a lot of things. But it’s not worth my time and effort to make sure everyone knows it.

Additionally, do these take-downs really serve any purpose other than giving the take-down artist a moment of perverse and evil joy? They’re addicted to it. Once they completely obliterate one target, they’re on to the next. They’re chasing the dragon. And the dragon will never be caught. Take-down artists–rude people with opinions and too much time on their hands–serve no purpose. They rarely get upset about things that are worth getting upset about (at least, not to that degree) but, instead, simply zero in on a creative for an arbitrary reason, and go into attack mode.

To what end?

To ruin someone’s day? Their career? To humiliate them so that someone else can feel good for having humiliated them?

It’s rude. It’s cruel. And it does nothing to make the world (or the writing community) a better place. There will always be another writer you hate to replace the one you just destroyed, and there will always be an army of trolls waiting to step up to the front of the line. It’s cyclic, annoying, exhausting, and meaningless.

Rudeness, for the sake of being rude, helps no one. It underlines a deeply-rooted problem with the person being rude for the sake of being rude. Because it makes them feel better about their own shortcomings and so they don’t have to think about all the ways in which they are not perfect either. You didn’t like a book? You hated it? Leave a review that says: “I didn’t like this book.” or: “I hated this book.” Give it 1-star, and move on with your day. If you want to be specific and say “The characters made me hate this book.” then fine. Do that. But move on. Don’t hop on Twitter or your blog or your TikTok or your…you get the idea…and start a take-down campaign.

Might I suggest a hobby? Or a life? Or classes on how to interact with others? Maybe therapy to try and find the root cause of why you want to humiliate the destroy other people?

My feeling about critiques and criticisms of all sorts is this: Come at me bro…kindly. If you want to tell me what I could do to improve, that’s great! If you want to tell me you didn’t like my book and why, that’s great! If you want to point out a mistake I made, that’s great! But if you’re doing it just to be rude (or present it rudely) or to humiliate me, I’m going to be rude back.

Like most creatives, I work hard to create my art. It’s rarely, if ever, perfect (in fact, I guarantee you that it never is). I know that. You know that. But that doesn’t mean that it lacks merit altogether. And it doesn’t negate the fact that I’m a living, breathing human being with feelings who deserves dignity and respect in my interactions with others. I don’t expect everyone to be super nice to me or be effusive about how much they love my work–that’s unrealistic. I know my work will certainly not be for everyone--I write LGBTQ+ YA a lot, for goodness sakes!–but I don’t expect to be harassed and treated like shit, either.

So…if anything, I would like to point out, once again, that honesty and rudeness are not synonymous. There’s a way to tell someone that you found multiple spelling and grammar errors in their book without feeling like you have to make them feel like they are the dumbest person you’ve ever encountered. People who want to make others feel like they are worthless are not good people–no matter how they justify their behavior(s) in their head. While someone may be technically right about an issue with a book, doing it in a way intended to humiliate another is not just rude, it’s cruel. And, what have we learned…?

Rudeness is not synonymous with honesty. Just because you were honest doesn’t mean that you’ve acted appropriately in your interactions with others.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

I Don’t Know You

Writing characters can be the hardest aspect of storytelling for writers. Developing a character from the ground up is a nightmare at times, even if a writer is passionate about the person they are pulling from the ether. Even if they feel they know the character inside and out. Or even when the character is incredibly similar to the author.

So, how much harder is it to create a character when the character is antithetical to an author’s beliefs, ideals, and morals?

I’ve encountered this situation a lot over the last 13 years, writing protagonists and antagonists and supporting characters. Sometimes, if a character shares some of my own traits or thought processes, getting inside of their head is easy. Other times, even if the character feels familiar, I find it difficult to figure them out. However, since there is a shared link between the character and me, it eventually works out. However, when I have nothing in common with the character, and I have no idea what would motivate them, I find myself hitting a brick wall time and time again.

It can make writing a single paragraph the most arduous task in the world.

So…how does a writer solve this problem?

While I don’t have a solution for every writer–we’re all so different–I can tell you what works for me.

In beginning to build a character and flesh them out, my first step is always: how do I relate to this character? If I can understand their backstory, their history, their motivation, and their belief structure, it’s pretty easy to hit the ground running. If a character is similar to me in some way(s), I know how they would act and react in most situations. However, not every character I write is like me. For the sake of making my point easily, let’s talk about Zach/GINJUH from my book “GINJUH.”

He’s seventeen-ish, red-haired, has a speech impediment, has freckles, is kind of shy (a lot due to his speech impediment), athletic, and loves working on his grandpa’s farm. Okay, so he’s gay and I’m gay. But other than that, we don’t have a ton of things in common.

So, I started with, well, how can I relate to the things we don’t have in common? Is there some commonality that will help me understand him?

I have an accent. Okay. That’s not the same as a speech impediment, but I know how it feels to have people make fun of the way I talk–or even just point it out and how awkward that can make me feel.

I’m not very athletic–I trip over my own feet. But GINJUH likes to run, so I can relate to that. I understand wanting to stretch my muscles and feel the endorphins and adrenaline rush.

I understand wanting to find someone to love at a young age.

I understand loving my grandparents and wanting to spend time with them.

This made me realize that I can find some common ground with this guy.

I know how’d I’d react to getting to spend time with my grandpa, finding love, having my way of speaking be the center of attention, and know the thrill of a good run. I can understand what motivates him!

What about Oma from JACOB MICHAELS IS…? I’ve never been and will never be a 70-something white woman who is also a witch and lives in an old house in a fictional town in Ohio. However, Oma is mouthy and just says what she thinks–without a care in the world about whose feelings she hurts or what people think of it.

Haven’t we all wanted to just say whatever was on our mind without giving a shit? I could relate to that. Besides, Oma is very protective of the people she loves. I get that, too!

Often, as writers, we’ll find ourselves thinking: I don’t know you. To our characters, I mean. Our creations sometimes feel like strangers and we don’t know how to introduce ourselves to them, to make them seem like an old friend instead of some foreign entity that makes no sense.

The best way (at least for me) to solve this problem is to find common ground. Figure out something about them that helps you understand their motivation–what makes them tick. And even if those things with which we identify don’t resonate with us personally, we can figure out someone in our life they are similar to. We can use that correlation to start understanding how our characters would behave. How they act and react. What gets them out of bed in the morning and through the day.

Even if we find ourselves writing the evilest character imaginable (and, let’s assume, the writer is the nicest person in the world), we can find something about them that we understand. You say this character wants to destroy the world–haven’t we all had a bad day where we wanted to burn it all to the ground? Haven’t we all felt slighted to the point that we don’t really care what happens to everyone and everything–even if only for a few seconds?

Now, it’s important to point out that some differences between the writer and character(s) are just too great to build a bridge and find commonality. A straight white man is never going to fully understand what it’s like to be a Black lesbian, for example. Being Black is a unique experience that one has to live to fully understand. It becomes part of a person’s soul. However, a white writer can find other things that they have in common with a Black character(s) because we’re all human. They just shouldn’t attempt to fully try to explain the Black experience because they’ll miss a ton of nuance (and probably end up being offensive)–and those aren’t their stories to tell, anyway.

Of course, white writers shouldn’t skate over the fact that it’s incredibly more difficult to be Black than it is white and that shouldn’t be swept under the rug, but trying to write as though they understand it the same way that a Black person would is just not a great idea.

This is a great place to advocate for the use of sensitivity readers when needed.

If a writer approaches their characters as simply human from the beginning, they can write anything. However, we have to be aware of where hard lines are that we should not cross. Write characters wildly different from yourself–and do it often because representation matters–but don’t steal the voice of a group of people of which you are not a part.

However, if it’s simply a matter of personality, beliefs, morals, disposition, or something similar, understanding your characters is easy if a writer figures out something about themselves that they can relate to their characters.

Spend a little time introducing yourself to your character.

You might find you have more in common than you thought.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,
Chase

Jacob Michaels Is… Book 7

SPOILERS FOR THE JACOB MICHAELS IS… BOOKS 1-6 AND THE SHORT STORY, CARNAVAL, WILL BE DISCUSSED IN THIS POST! IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THEM AND INTEND TO, TURN BACK NOW. THIS WILL BE THE ONLY WARNING!

Oooooookay.

Though I’ve kept fairly quiet about the A Point Worth LGBTQ+ Paranormal Romance series (and Jacob Michaels Is… in general), I know a lot of the dedicated JMI readers are thirsty for news. A few people have threatened my life for details about what’s next for Jacob/Rob, Oma, and especially Lucas. In a loving way, of course.

Well, I’ve got some details for you all.

But first, let me address a question I get often from readers of the JMI series. Well, there’s really a series of questions, but they all basically boil down to this:

Was it all real or fake?

Hopefully, it was clear at the end of JACOB MICHAELS IS DEAD (with assistance from the short story, CARNAVAL), everything that happened in books 1-6 and CARNAVAL was a T.V. show pitch from Jacob/Rob to producers/executives. However, with the final scene(s), it should also have been clear to the reader that maybe some of the pitch was based on Jacob’s/Rob’s real life.

Esther Jean Wagner/Oma is Jacob’s grandmother. Lucas is really Jacob’s boyfriend from high school. Ernst exists. Magic is real.

The rest…well, you’ll have to wait and see. More will be revealed as true or false as the series progresses.

So, what should you all expect in Book 7 (MURDER AT THE RED ROOSTER TAVERN) and beyond? Well, consider this–Jacob’s pitch has been picked up by the T.V. executives/producers he met with at the end of JACOB MICHAELS IS DEAD. Now, they’re going to film the show, on location, back in Point Worth, Ohio.

The same cast, playing different roles, in a new story with a different plot.

Have you ever seen American Horror Story? <insert sly smile here>

Think of JACOB MICHAELS IS… as the first season of a T.V. show…but in book form. Season 1 of A Point Worth LGBTQ+ Paranormal Romance was Jacob Michaels Is... Season 2 is Murders in Point Worth. This second “season” will contain 4 books in total:

MURDER AT THE RED ROOSTER TAVERN
MURDER AT THE DIME A DOZEN
MURDER AT THE MAUMEE MOORING BASIN
MURDER AT THE LAST MAN STANDING

All of the characters you love – Jacob/Rob, Oma, Lucas, Carlita, Ernst – will return. Characters you hate (or love to hate) – Andrew, Jason – will be back as well. New characters will be introduced. Jacob/Rob is still a movie star, down on his luck, returning home to visit his grandmother. But Oma is no longer a homebody, gardening and making fattening meals three meals a day. Lucas isn’t working as a substitute English teacher and hardware salesman. Carlita isn’t a performer in a drag show…and maybe Ernst and the other Kobolds don’t hide in the shadows as much as they did in the first six books. Maybe magic and the paranormal aren’t so hidden away as before?

Maybe Point Worth itself is…different?

Though things are changing, everything you loved will still be present. Love, romance, danger, magic, paranormal creatures, sass, horror, and all the gay, will be slathered all over that shit.

Book 7, MURDER AT THE RED ROOSTER TAVERN, opens with Jacob arriving at the aforementioned tavern. Oma is working the bar and dealing with a drunken Mr. Barkley as the townspeople do what people do in a bar–act rowdy. Before the first chapter ends, all Hell breaks loose and some creature is tearing the place up.

Just to whet your appetite for the next four books a little more, here are all 4 covers in one place:

You can see that Jacob/Rob, Andrew, and Jason show up on the cover for the first 3 books. A new character is on the fourth. Wonder who he is…?

Lastly, there will be some free book swag available with the release of MURDER AT THE RED ROOSTER TAVERN. The Lion Fish Press will have “The Red Rooster Tavern” stickers and Chase Connor Books bookmarks to send out. If you haven’t signed up for the Chase Connor Books Newsletter…you might want to do that soon. It’ll be the first place I tell JMI readers how to get the free swag.

Oh. When does Book 7 come out?

May 7th, 2021.

In the meantime, maybe read (or re-read JACOB MICHAELS IS… THE OMNIBUS EDITION).

Tremendous Love & Thanks,
Chase

Success

Every person, every family, every culture, every country, race, ethnicity, or religion has some definition of the concept of success. Even specific industries measure success with some (or many) type(s) of metrics. From a young age we’ve all had someone or some institution in our lives hammering what success is supposed to look like into our heads. Is it money? Other material possessions? Some milestone such as starting a family or retiring early? Is it autonomy from the machinations of society?

What is success? How do we measure it?

The concept of success is entrenched in the world of writing and publishing. Just like any other industry. Benchmarks and milestones and achievements of what that looks like are presented to us as a way of quantifying and validating whether or not what we’ve managed to accomplish is actual success.

Most of it’s bullshit, to be quite honest with you.

Success is a concept, not a destination. Because what happens when you hit the milestone that means “success?” And it can vary greatly on even a microscopic level–from person to person.

Unfortunately, as with most things that are abstract–such as success–I can’t give you an answer as to how you should decide if you’re successful as a writer. However, I can share with you what success means to me as an individual, and leave you to help it guide you towards your own definition.

For me, success is measured in both quantifiable measurements and by using intangible measurements. It’s a multi-level system of deciding if I’m doing well as a writer that I usually check in on each day.

The quantifiable stuff is sales, rankings, feedback from readers, and how much I am able to accomplish that I can hold in my hands (i.e. actual finished products/books).

The intangible is how I feel. Am I fulfilled? Am I happy? How does writing as a career work with my life? Am I doing this for the right reasons still?

The intangible is usually a lot harder to figure out as compared to the quantifiable, measurable stuff.

But let’s start with the things that we can quantify and validate. How do I measure success in tangible terms?

If I’m selling books everyday, I feel successful. If all of my books are rated at least an average of 3-stars, I feel successful. If readers tell me that they enjoyed what they read, I feel successful. If I am able to write at least 5k words a day, I feel successful. If I can publish a book and feel proud of what I’ve published, I feel successful. These are all things–except maybe the pride–that are measurable and can easily be determined as having been met or not.

But let’s talk about each of these. Some authors sell a lot of books one day, very little or none the next. Some sell consistently each day. Some sell a bit here and a bit there. It depends on the author. What feels good to me may not feel good to another author. Consistency and longevity is what I’m looking for in my career, so selling some books each day works for me. Some days the sales are high, some days they’re “meh.”

Only 3-stars makes me feel successful? That sounds crazy, right? Well, I love when readers say one of my books was a 5-star rating for them. And 1-star ratings can sometimes make me feel horrible (which is one of the reasons why I don’t look at reviews unless I’m tagged in them or someone tells me about their review). Also, what someone thinks about my book is subjective, so reviews don’t really help me much. However, if a book has an overall rating of at least 3-stars, I know that my book was average or above for the majority of my readers. I did my job. It’s impossible to have a book be 5-star ratings across the board–unless you have very few reviews–so I don’t even bother shooting for that goal. It’s unrealistic and will only end in disappointment.

Each day, I write for 6-12 hours. At least, that’s what I shoot for each day. In that time, I try to write at least 5k words. They don’t all have to be the best words I’m capable of, I just have to hit that goal. I can measure that. Some days, it’s less. Some days, I write until I feel like I wrote an entire novel (though I’ve NEVER done that in a single day). This goal and milestone tells me if I worked hard during my day. It makes me feel good and accomplished to hit 5k words.

Lastly, if when a book is published, I feel I can stand behind my work, that is a measure of success. The rest is kind of out of my hands–sales and ratings, I mean–so pride in my work has to be a goal I use to measure how I feel about it. So far, I haven’t felt ashamed of any of my work (except the early erotica short stories–and not ALL of them were horrible).

So…that’s the measurable stuff. Let’s talk about the intangible.

Do I feel happy with my career? Does writing fulfill me each day? Does this work for me? My life? Am I still writing for the right reasons?

Well, to answer the last question first–each day I wake up with a story in my head. A desire to pick up a pen, open my phone’s notes app, or hop on my laptop or computer. I can’t not write. Even if no one gave a shit that I was writing, I’d have to write. So, I feel that I’m writing for the right reasons.

I am a writer.

Each day I ask myself if I am still happy publishing. If I’m happy sharing my work, the scrutiny that comes with it, and the hard work that it entails. The answer is always “yes.”

Does writing fulfill me as a career? Do I feel that I’m missing something in life by dedicating myself to it? Always “yes” and “no.”

Does writing and being a writer work with my personal life? Is it causing problems or getting in the way of a full life, good relationships, or reaching my potential as a human? It does work with my life and, other than losing sleep to work into the wee hours of the night, it rarely causes a problem.

So…I feel that I am successful. Have I been on the New York Times Bestsellers List? No. Have I debuted at #1 in my genre on Amazon? Yes. Have I had books in the Top 10 in my category? Yes. Do people enjoy my books? More often than not. Do I feel that this is a career that is sustainable and will be something I can do the rest of my life? Yes.

I feel successful. I feel happy. Why would I get mad at myself if the way I measure success is different than the way another writer measures their success?

Sure, it’d be great to see one of my books as number one on the NYTBL – especially one of the LGBTQ+ YA books (since that’s rare) – but I don’t need that to feel good about my success.

Admittedly, I once felt successful just because I finished a book – JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE – and it was simply published. Just having a book available for people to buy felt like I was super successful. The definition for success may change over time for each writer. But let it be on your terms – not some vague concept society has created and demanded you abide.

Make your success about you. Not them.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase